Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

November 30, 2012

U.N. vote recognizes state of Palestine; U.S. objects

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to recognize a Palestinian state, a victory decades in the making for the Palestinians after years of occupation and war. It was a sharp rebuke for Israel and the United States.

A Palestinian flag was quickly unfurled on the floor of the General Assembly, behind the Palestinian delegation, as the final vote was cast.

In an extraordinary lineup of international support, more than two-thirds of the world body’s 193 member states approved the resolution upgrading the Palestinians to a nonmember observer state.  It passed 138-9, with 41 abstentions.  

The historic vote came 65 years to the day after the U.N. General Assembly voted in 1947 to divide Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. Israel became a state but the Palestinians rejected the partition plan, and decades of tension and violence have followed.

Real independence, however, remains an elusive dream until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis, who warned that the General Assembly action will only delay a lasting solution. Israel still controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and access to Gaza, and it accused the Palestinians of bypassing negotiations with the campaign to upgrade their U.N. status.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, jubilant Palestinians crowded into the main square, waving Palestinian flags and chanting “God is great!” Hundreds had watched the vote on outdoor screens and televisions, and they hugged, honked their horns and set off fireworks as the final vote was cast.

The tally came after a speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in which he called the moment a “last chance” to save the two-state solution.

“The General Assembly is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine,” the Palestinian leader declared.

The United States and Israel immediately criticized the vote.

“Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path of peace,” U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said. “Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”  

Calling the vote “meaningless,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Abbas of spreading “mendacious propaganda” against Israel in a speech he rejected as “defamatory and venomous.”

“The resolution in the U.N. today won’t change anything on the ground,” Netanyahu said. “It won’t advance the establishment of a Palestinian state, but rather, put it further off.”

With most U.N. members sympathetic to the Palestinians, there had been no doubt the resolution would be approved. A state of Palestine has already been recognized by 132 countries, and the Palestinians have 80 embassies and 40 representative offices around the world, according to the Palestinian Foreign Ministry.

Still, the Palestinians lobbied hard for Western support, winning over key European countries including France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and Ireland, as well as Japan and New Zealand. Germany and Britain were among the many Western nations that abstained.

Joining the United States and Israel in voting “no” were Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

Despite Thursday’s triumph, the Palestinians face enormous limitations. They don’t control their borders, airspace or trade, they have separate and competing governments in Gaza and the West Bank and they have no unified army or police.

The vote grants Abbas an overwhelming international endorsement for his key position: establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. With Netanyahu opposed to a pullback to the 1967 lines, this should strengthen Abbas’ hand if peace talks resume.

The U.N. action also could help Abbas restore some of his standing, which has been eroded by years of standstill in peace efforts. His rival, the Hamas militant group, deeply entrenched in Gaza, has seen its popularity rise after it responded with a barrage of rocket fire to an Israeli offensive earlier this month on targets linked to the militants.

In a departure from its previous opposition, Hamas, which rules Gaza and refuses to recognize Israel, said it wouldn’t interfere with the U.N. bid for statehood, and its supporters joined some of the celebrations Thursday.

With its newly enhanced status, the Palestinians can now gain access to U.N. agencies and international bodies, most significantly the International Criminal Court, which could become a springboard for going after Israel for alleged war crimes or its ongoing settlement building on war-won land.

However, in the run-up to the U.N. vote, Abbas signaled that he wants recognition to give him leverage in future talks with Israel, and not as a tool for confronting or delegitimizing Israel, as Israeli leaders have claimed.

Speaking stridently at times Thursday, Abbas accused the Israelis of “colonial occupation” that institutionalizes racism and charged that the Jewish state is continuing to perpetuate “war crimes.”

Still, he said the Palestinians did not come to terminate “what remains of the negotiations process” but to try “to breathe new life into the negotiations” and achieve an independent state.

“We will act responsibly and positively in our next steps,” he said.

The Palestinians turned to the General Assembly after the United States announced it would veto their bid last fall for full U.N. membership until there is a peace deal with Israel. Abbas made clear that this remains the Palestinians’ ultimate goal — hopefully soon.

The vote grants the Palestinians the same status at the U.N. as the Vatican, and they will keep their seat next to the Holy See in the assembly chamber.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration _Rich copy.jpg DHS secretary re-evaluating deportation priorities

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday he’s re-evaluating the Obama administration’s deportation priorities to make certain they’re focused on national security, public safety and border security, amid growing pressure from the Latino community and President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats. 

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rethinking Pot 420_Rich copy.jpg Public smoke-out marks pot holiday in Colorado

    Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Submarine Sleep Sched_Rich copy.jpg Navy OKs changes for submariners’ sleep schedules

    With no sunlight to set day apart from night on a submarine, the U.S. Navy for decades has staggered sailors’ working hours on schedules with little resemblance to life above the ocean’s surface.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Grim work for families as more bodies discovered

    There are no names listed as relatives huddle around signboards to identify bodies from a sunken ferry. Just the slimmest of clues about mostly young lives now lost. Many favored hoodies and track pants. One girl painted her fingernails red and toenails black. Another had braces on her teeth.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP600421099 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, April 21, 2014

    Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Space Robot_Rich copy.jpg NASA’s Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nepal Everest Avalanc_Rich copy.jpg Another body pulled from snow in avalanche

    Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results