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UN prepares to vote on Palestinian status

Published time: November 29, 2012 11:00
Edited time: November 29, 2012 20:20
Palestinians attend a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority's U.N. observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," November 29, 2012 (Reuters / Mohamad Torokman)

Palestinians attend a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority's U.N. observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," November 29, 2012 (Reuters / Mohamad Torokman)

The UN General Assembly is due to vote on Palestine’s status upgrade to a non-member observer state. Many UN members have thrown their support behind the resolution, while the US branded it as counterproductive to the Israel-Palestine peace effort.

The Palestine Authority expects broad support of the enhanced status amongst the international community, with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is claiming more than 130 countries now grant the Palestinians the rank of a sovereign state.

The new title would allow Palestine access to the International Criminal Court, something that Israel is bitterly opposed to, fearing a possible investigation into war crimes committed by the Jewish state. Additionally, it is concerned that the Palestinian Authority may pursue this avenue to reclaim occupied territories.

EU countries that have shown their support for the bid include Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain.

More than a dozen key European countries have already voiced their support in favor of the status upgrade that will put Palestine one step closer to its final goal of full statehood. The UK stated it will only vote in favor of Palestine if it immediately returns to negotiations with Israel, heralding a possible abstention.

A Palestinian shouts slogans during a rally in the West Bank city of Nablus, supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority′s United Nations observer status from "entity" to "non-member state" November 29, 2012 (Reuters / Abed Omar Qusini)
A Palestinian shouts slogans during a rally in the West Bank city of Nablus, supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority's United Nations observer status from "entity" to "non-member state" November 29, 2012 (Reuters / Abed Omar Qusini)

­Germany would also abstain on the issue, although the decision wasn’t taken lightly, the country’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

“With our decision to abstain this time we want to make very clear that we support the ultimate goal of a two-state solution and that we would encourage everybody to come back to the negotiation table in order to find a peaceful solution for both sides,” Dr. Rainer Stinner, German MP and foreign policy spokesman for the Free Democratic Party told RT.

Italy said Thursday it is throwing its support behind the Palestinian bid, though earlier reports suggested it would not. The government said in a statement their decision was a part of its “commitment to relaunch the peace process with the aim of a two-state solution.”

Palestinian Authority spokesman, Anan Ashrawi hailed the support of major EU countries as a “historical turning point and opportunity for the world to rectify a grave historical injustice that the Palestinians have undergone since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948."

On the other hand, the authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs promised to “review and reassess” its relationships with all nations who vote against their bid or abstain.

The US strongly opposes the resolution and has threatened that there will be significant consequences should it go through. They say the move is counterproductive and Palestine seeks to sidestep peace negotiations with Israel in its quest for statehood.

"The path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York," said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. "The only way to get a lasting solution is to commence direct negotiations."

Washington has warned Palestine that persisting in its statehood ambitions will affect much-needed US monetary aid. 

Israel has expressed its “disappointment” at the announcement of some European countries to support the Palestinian bid.

‘‘The United Nations General Assembly will pass a one-sided anti-Israel resolution that should come as a surprise to nobody, and certainly not to anyone in Israel,” said Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesperson. He dismissed the UN as a “diplomatic theater” that has no influence on “the realities on the ground.”

Separately, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "there is no power in the world that can force Israel to compromise on its security.”

People carry large Palestinian flags during a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron, supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority′s United Nations observer status from "entity" to "non-member state" November 29, 2012 (Reuters / Ammar Awad)
People carry large Palestinian flags during a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron, supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority's United Nations observer status from "entity" to "non-member state" November 29, 2012 (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

­

'Game changer'

Activist and filmmaker Harry Fear told RT that a positive vote would have serious significance for the region in that it will allow “Palestinians to challenge Israeli war crimes committed in Gaza.”

Moreover, he referenced the case of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat whom many Palestinians believe was assassinated 8 years ago by Israel. If they are granted the enhanced status the Palestinian Authority will take the case to the International Criminal Court, said Mr. Fear.

Elaborating on the consequences of a negative vote, he said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be “seen as even weaker as a Palestinian representative and Hamas will be further strengthened, to the dismay of Israel and the US.”

­It’s time to have Palestine back on the map and give Palestinian people the rights they have been waiting for so long, Xavier Abu Eid, Communications Advisor at the Palestine Liberation Organization told RT.

“For the past 65 years Israel has enjoyed an unprecedented culture of impunity that has allowed Israel to violate 65 UN resolutions and almost every single international treaty,” the Palestinian activist argued.

“The question for the day after this vote would be if we can turn all this overwhelming international support into real political action, so we can enjoy the peace and freedom the Palestinian people deserve,” Abu Eid said, outlining the political prospects for an internationally recognized Palestinian state.

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