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UN General Assembly Grants Palestine Non-Member Observer State Status, 138 for, 9 Against, 41 Abstaining

November 29, 2012

In opposition to the Palestinian bid for UN recognition were Israel, U.S., Canada, Czech Republic, Panama, and four islands in the South Pacific Ocean: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau.

Wide view of the General Assembly Hall as draft resolution to grant Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations is introduced. UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN, 29 November 2012 –

 The General Assembly today voted to grant Palestine non-member observer State status at the United Nations, while expressing the urgent need for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians leading to a permanent two-State solution.

The resolution on the status of Palestine in the UN was adopted by a vote of 138 in favour to nine against with 41 abstentions by the 193-member Assembly.

“We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a State established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the State that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine,” the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told the Assembly before the vote.

Mr. Abbas noted that the world was being asked today to undertake a significant step in the process of rectifying the “unprecedented historical injustice” inflicted on the Palestinian people since 1948.

“Your support for our endeavour today,” he said, “will send a promising message – to millions of Palestinians on the land of Palestine, in the refugee camps both in the homeland and the Diaspora, and to the prisoners struggling for freedom in Israel’s prisons – that justice is possible and that there is a reason to be hopeful and that the peoples of the world do not accept the continuation of the occupation.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said his delegation could not accept today’s resolution. “Because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards,” he stated, adding that peace could only be achieved through negotiations.

“There’s only one route to Palestinian statehood and that route does not run through this chamber in New York. That route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he added. “There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions.”

The Israelis and Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“Today’s vote underscores the urgency of a resumption of meaningful negotiations,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after the vote was finalized. “We must give new impetus to our collective efforts to ensure that an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine lives side by side with a secure State of Israel. I urge the parties to renew their commitment to a negotiated peace.”

Addressing the same gathering, the President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, appealed to “my dear friends from Palestine and Israel” to work for peace, to negotiate in good faith, and ultimately, to succeed in reaching the historical settlement.

“I have no doubt that history will judge this day to have been fraught with significance – but whether it will come to be looked upon as a step in the right direction on the road to peace will depend on how we bear ourselves in its wake,” he said. “Let us therefore have the wisdom to act in furtherance of the goal I’m sure we all share.”

In the resolution, the Assembly also voiced the hope that the Security Council will “consider favourably” the application submitted in September 2011 by Palestine for full UN membership.

The Palestinian bid for full UN membership stalled last year when the 15-nation Council, which decides whether or not to recommend admission by the Assembly, said it had been “unable to make a unanimous recommendation.”

Today’s action comes on the same day that the UN observed the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Established in 1977, the Day marks the date in 1947 when the Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning then-mandated Palestine into two States, one Jewish and one Arab.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN chief and General Assembly President call on Israel and Palestinians to resume talks


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) and General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic (left) at a special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

UN, 29 November 2012 –

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today called on Israel and the Palestinians to find the “political will and courage” to move ahead with talks aimed at establishing a lasting peace between them through Palestinian statehood and security for Israel.

Speaking as the UN General Assembly prepared to vote on whether to grant Palestine a UN status that remained short of full statehood, Mr. Ban said that realizing the so-called two-State solution to the decades-long conflict was now “more urgent than ever” as political changes sweep across the Middle East.

“Sixty-five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, proposing the partition of the mandate territory into two States,” Mr. Ban said in reference to the 29 November 1947 resolution that called for the division of the former British mandate for Palestine. “Sixty-five years later, this vision of a two-state solution remains tragically unfulfilled.”

Mr. Ban was addressing the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People which, created by the Assembly in 1975, serves as the sole UN body devoted exclusively to issues related to Palestine.

The Committee was meeting in its annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which the Assembly set in 1977 for 29 November in recognition of its 1947 ‘partition’ resolution.

Addressing the same event, the UN General Assembly President, Vuk Jeremic, said he believed the continued absence of a state for Palestinians was “one of the world’s most fundamental wrongs.”

“It stands in the face (of) the central tenet of the UN Charter: to create a workable system that not only helps to prevent conflicts, but asserts the pre-eminence of justice – pledging not only equal rights to all nations, but ensuring their equal dignity as well,” Mr. Jeremic said.

“Millions of Palestinians continue to live in poverty in the myriad camps scattered throughout the Middle East,” he noted. Five million Palestinians are recognized by the UN as refugees who trace their roots to those displaced following the division of the Palestine mandate.

Many of Mr. Ban’s comments were reflected in an earlier message he issued to mark the International Day.

Both Mr. Ban and Mr. Jeremic referred to today’s Palestinian-status vote in the General Assembly, which is asking Member States to decide whether to recognize Palestine as a Non-member Observer State of the UN. The current Palestinian status at the UN is that of observer entity.

Mr. Ban said today’s status question was one for Member States to decide as he added that “efforts should be focused… on relaunching meaningful negotiations, which are the only way to resolve all permanent status issues.”

“I call on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to breathe new life into the peace process, which is now on life support,” Mr. Ban stated. ‘I urge the international community to help them forge a credible political path that will realize the legitimate aspirations of both sides.”

Noting a number of key initiatives over the years at the UN and beyond in search of a solution, Mr. Ban said that “what is needed now is political will and courage.”

Mr. Jeremic said it was “crucial for the Palestinians and Israelis to transform (the vote’s) effects into an opportunity to return to the negotiating table” – regardless of the outcome.

“The goal must be to repair the breech, and to achieve at long last, what was envisioned in 1947,” he said.

Other speakers included the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, and the current President of the UN Security Council, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri of India.

Palestinians led by Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly seek a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. A bid by the Palestinians to apply for full UN membership stalled last year when the 15-nation UN Security Council, which decides whether or not to recommend admission by the 193-nation General Assembly, said it had been “unable to make a unanimous recommendation.”

The Israelis and Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Tension in the region increased as violence broke out earlier this month, with rocket attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip and Israeli airstrikes on Palestinian enclave. The eight days of violence left an estimated 158 Palestinians dead, including 103 civilians, and approximately 1,269 injured. Six Israelis – four civilians and two soldiers – were reportedly killed by Palestinian rocket fire and 224 Israelis were injured, the vast majority civilians.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

On Day of Solidarity with Palestinians, Ban stresses urgency of reaching two-state solution

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