Abbas and UN chief Ban Ki-moon
Photo: AP
Celebrations in Hebron
Photo: AFP
General Assembly recognizes Palestine as observer state
Overwhelming majority of UN member states okay resolution to upgrade Palestinian Authority's status; 138 countries vote in favor, 41 abstain and nine oppose

The General Assembly on Thursday approved a resolution granting Palestine non-member observer state at the United Nations. As many as 138 countries vote in favor of the bid; 41 abstained and nine voted against it.


The nine countries that voted against the resolution are: Israel, US, Canada, Czech Republic, Panama, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. Among the 41 countries that abstained were Britain, Germany, Holland, Australia, Poland and South Korea.


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Earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Assembly "to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine."


Greeted with thunderous applause, he said that Palestine has come to the UN because it believes in peace.


Watch Abbas' full speech    (צילום: רויטרס)


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Abbas opened his speech by commenting on Operation Pillar of Defense and denouncing Israel for killing many Palestinians and causing great damage to infrastructure in Gaza.


Referring to the "Nakba" events of 1948, he claimed that Israel committed modern ethnic cleansing.


The Palestinian president also rebuked Israel for failing to "save the peace process" and came out against military strikes and settler attacks. He accused Israel of colonizing Palestine and continuing its aggression.

לוח ההצבעה באו"ם. רק 9 נקודות אדומות (צילום: רויטרס)

UN vote. Only nine opposed (Photo: Reuters)

נשיא הרשות הפלסטינית נואם. "ישראל ביצעה טיהור אתני" (צילום: AP)

Abbas. Aggressive speech (Photo: AP)

השגריר פרושאור: "אבו מאזן מעוות את ההיסטוריה" (צילום: AFP)

Israel's Ron Prosor (Photo: AFP)


Abbas claimed that the Palestinians did not come to the UN to de-legitimize "a country created here many years ago" or to further complicate the peace process, but to launch a last ditch attempt for peace.


He said that the Palestinians will not accept anything less than an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital on all territories occupied in 1967 and a solution to the refugee issue.

מליאת העצרת הכללית, הערב (צילום: AP)

General Assembly (Photo: AP)


Israel's UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that "the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace" and that the UN can't break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel. 


Prosor stated that "Israel is a nation that never hesitates to defend itself, but will always extend its hand for peace. Peace is a central value of Israeli society."


He then said, "Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected. The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all."


"None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it.


"The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards. "


Prosor: Abbas ignores history

Prosor accused Abbas of ignoring history with his remarks on November 29. "The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples.


"Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the 'Jews into the sea'. "


Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also addressed the Assembly and pledged Ankara's support for the Palestine. "You are not alone and we shall not leave you on your own. We shall stand by you until you have an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital."


After the bid is approved, the UN will effectively recognize Palestine as a state but it will not be a UN member. Membership is granted only by the Security Council, where the US has veto power.


Nevertheless, the move opens the door for the PA to file suits against Israel in the International Court of Justice. Palestinians have been celebrating across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from noon.  

ילדים פלסטינים חוגגים ברמאללה, הערב (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Celebration in Ramallah (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

חגיגה באדום-לבן-ירוק בגדה (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Palestinian boy in West Bank (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Several hours prior to the meeting, Abbas and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki attended a UN event marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.


Abbas said in a statement that despite diminishing hopes and a worsening situation on the ground due to Israeli violations "we remain committed to the two-state solution and our hand remains extended in peace."


He appealed on all nations to vote in favor of a UN resolution recognizing the state of Palestine as "an investment in peace."


Reuters and AP contributed to this report




First published: 29.11.12, 22:40
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