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Reuters reports: "West Bank officials hope for more than 130 yes votes in 193-nation general assembly, despite US and Israeli opposition."

A Palestinian woman cries during the statehood speech of President Mahmoud Abbas's in Ramallah, West Bank. (photo: Bernat Armangue/AP)
A Palestinian woman cries during the statehood speech of President Mahmoud Abbas's in Ramallah, West Bank. (photo: Bernat Armangue/AP)

Palestinians Set to Win Statehood Recognition in UN Vote

By Reuters

29 November 12


West Bank officials hope for more than 130 yes votes in 193-nation general assembly, despite US and Israeli opposition

he UN general assembly is set to implicitly recognise a sovereign state of Palestine on Thursday despite threats by the US and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government.

A resolution to change the Palestinian Authority's UN observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation general assembly. Israel, the US and a handful of other members plan to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has led the campaign to win support for the resolution, and more than a dozen European governments have offered him their support.

The US state department said on Wednesday that the deputy secretary of state, Bill Burns, made a last-ditch effort to get Abbas to reconsider. The Palestinians gave no sign they were turning back.

Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, said on Wednesday that the US believed the Palestinian move was misguided and efforts should focus instead on reviving the stalled Middle East peace process. "The path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York," she said. "The only way to get a lasting solution is to commence direct negotiations."

A state department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, reiterated US warnings that the move could lead to a reduction of economic support for the Palestinians. The Israelis have said they might take significant deductions out of monthly transfers of duties that Israel collects on the Palestinians' behalf.

Granting Palestinians the title of "non-member observer state" falls short of full UN membership, something the Palestinians failed to achieve last year. But it would allow them access to the international criminal court and some other international bodies, should they choose to join them.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation official, told a news conference in Ramallah that "the Palestinians can't be blackmailed all the time with money".

"If Israel wants to destabilise the whole region, it can," she said. "We are talking to the Arab world about their support, if Israel responds with financial measures, and the EU has indicated they will not stop their support to us."

Peace talks have been stalled for two years, mainly over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have expanded despite being deemed illegal by most of the world. In their draft resolution, the Palestinians have pledged to relaunch the peace process immediately following the UN vote.

As there is little doubt about how the US will vote, the PA has been concentrating its efforts on lobbying wealthy European states, diplomats say. With strong support from the developing world that makes up the majority of UN members, the Palestinian resolution is virtually assured of securing more than the requisite simple majority.

Abbas has been trying to amass as many European votes in favour as possible. As of Wednesday afternoon, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland had all pledged to support the resolution. Britain said it was prepared to vote yes, but only if the Palestinians fulfilled certain conditions.

Diplomats said the Czech Republic was expected to vote against the move, although other Europeans might join it. Germany said it could not support the Palestinian resolution, but left open the question of whether it would abstain, like Estonia and Lithuania, or vote no with the Czechs.

Ashrawi said the positive responses from European states were encouraging and sent a message of hope to all Palestinians. "This constitutes 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," she said.

A strong backing from European nations could make it awkward for Israel to implement harsh retaliatory measures. Diplomats say Israel wants to avoid antagonising Europe. But Israel's reaction might not be so measured if the Palestinians seek ICC action against Israel on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity or other crimes the court would have jurisdiction over.

Israel also seems wary of weakening the western-backed Abbas, especially after the political boost rival Hamas received from recent solidarity visits to Gaza by senior officials from Egypt, Qatar and Tunisia. Hamas militants, who control Gaza and have had icy relations with the PA in the West Bank, unexpectedly offered Abbas their support this week.

One western diplomat said the Palestinian move was almost an insult to the US president, Barack Obama. "It's not the best way to convince Mr Obama to have a more positive approach toward the peace process," a western diplomat planning to vote for the Palestinian resolution said. "Three weeks after his election, it's basically a slap in the face." your social media marketing partner


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+13 # reiverpacific 2012-11-29 11:50
If only the Israeli people would vote warmonger Nutty-yahoo out in the coming elections (his popularity is dropping rapidly, especially since the recent conflict) and elect a more centrist or even left-labor party, this may get somewhere.
Sadly, Cameron of the UK is likely to follow the lead of whatever the US does, pushed to the extreme by the far-too-influen tial Leiberman-fink and co. lobby.
But then I don't even pretend to be knowledgeable on this issue, other than the news I can get from ANY source but the US Owner-media.
+3 # Rascalndear 2012-11-29 15:27
Wow, the only thing wester diplomats are concerned with is slapping Obama in the face? Talk about self-centered nonsense. The rightful aspirations of the Palestinians are mere piffle by comparison... is that what we're supposed to understand? All the between-the-lin es threats and stuff are what's a real slap in the face!
0 # Sacrebleu! 2012-11-30 15:09
A slap in the face? How about a bomb in on the house?
+7 # hoodwinkednomore 2012-11-29 15:42
About time! Shame on the US. Shame, shame, shame. Seriously.
+6 # Activista 2012-11-29 17:08
"Palestinians MUST seek ICC action against Israel on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity or other crimes ..."
about time to indite Apartheid Israel as a terrorist state ..

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