Palestine Becomes 'Non-Member U.N. Observer State' after Receiving 138 Votes at General Assemblyإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a non-member state, giving a major diplomatic triumph to President Mahmoud Abbas despite fierce opposition from the United States and Israel.
The 193-member assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions for the resolution which enables the Palestinians to join U.N. agencies and sign international treaties.
Shortly before the vote, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded the United Nations issue a "birth certificate" for a Palestinian state, saying U.N. recognition was a last chance for peace with Israel.
Abbas was given a standing ovation at the start and end of a 22-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly in which he said he wanted to "breathe new life" into efforts to reach a settlement with Israel.
Abbas said U.N. members had to "issue a birth certificate of the reality of the state of Palestine."
"The international community now stands before the last chance to save the two-state solution," Abbas said, in a speech which made repeated references to Israel's military assault this month against Gaza.
"There was no need for thousands of deadly raids and tons of explosives for the world to be reminded that there is an occupation that must come to an end," Abbas declared.
The United States has said the resolution will not help a return to talks, but Abbas said the initiative was "aimed at trying to breathe new life into the negotiations and at setting a solid foundation" for success.
Abbas said the Palestinians would accept "no less than the independence of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital"
But he added: "We must repeat here once again our warning: the window of opportunity is narrowing and time is quickly running out. The rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering."
The Palestinian leader did not make any reference to the possibility of joining the International Criminal Court -- a major worry for Israel.
But Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would consult with other countries and act "responsibly" after its diplomatic status is bolstered.
"We will act responsibly and positively in our next steps, and we will to work to strengthen cooperation with the countries and peoples of the world for the sake of a just peace," he said.
Israel's U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, called the resolution "so one-sided it doesn't advance peace, it pushes it backward."
"The U.N. resolution will not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority," Prosor added. The diplomat said that the resolution "will place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and peace."
Earlier on Thursday, Abbas was warned by U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon that the Middle East peace process is on "life support" and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said even the U.N. General Assembly vote would not create a new Palestinian state.
Before his speech, in a side meeting, the Palestinian leader heard Ban's warning that only "direct negotiations" between the Palestinians and Israelis could lead to a permanent settlement to the decades-old conflict.
And the Secretary General urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders "to breathe new life into the peace process which is now on life support" because of the deadlock in the peace process between the rivals.
Talks between the two have been suspended since September, 2010 with the Palestinians blaming Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
The vote comes 10 days after a ceasefire ended a brief but bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that holds sway in the Gaza Strip and is a rival of Abbas and his West Bank-based Fatah faction.
The eight-day conflict, which left 174 Palestinians and six Israelis dead, only ended after Hamas and Israel agreed to an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire, underlining the Abbas administration's weak position on the ground.
While the international community hailed Egypt's role in seeking the truce, the bloodshed on both sides only served to further harm hopes of a return to a substantive direct dialogue between Israel and Palestinian leaders.
"What is needed now is political will and courage. Leaders must show a historic sense of responsibility and vision. Israelis and Palestinians must break out of the zero-sum mentality," Ban said in New York.
The landmark General Assembly meeting was held on the 65th anniversary of a U.N. resolution on the division of the Palestinian territories into a two-state solution that Ban said "remains tragically unfulfilled."
"We have made very clear to the Palestinian leadership that we oppose Palestinian efforts to upgrade their status at the U.N. outside of the framework" of talks with Israel, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.
Israeli leader Netanyahu said Thursday the U.N. decision "won't promote the creation of a Palestinian state, it will distance it."
The bid's success gave the Palestinians access to U.N. agencies and treaties and potentially allowed them to apply to join the International Criminal Court -- a prospect that worries Israel.
Palestinian envoys have said Abbas will not rush to join the court but could use it if Israel does not change its policies on settlements and other matters.
The United States blocked a Palestinian application for full membership of the United Nations that Abbas made in September 2011.
The Palestinian Authority and U.N. agencies admit the Palestinians could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in financing because of the vote. U.S. law prohibits funding for any international body recognizing a Palestinian state.
Washington has warned Abbas he risks losing around $200 million in aid, which is blocked in the U.S. Congress.
Israel is considering freezing the transfer of tax and customs funds it collects for the Palestinians, while one Israeli foreign ministry policy paper even suggested "toppling" the Palestinian Authority.
But ministry spokeswoman Ilana Stein said Israel would most likely not take any punitive measures unless the Palestinians used the upgrade "as a platform for confrontation" at the ICC.