United Nations Votes To Recognize Palestinian State
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, right, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at U.N. headquarters on Wednesday, November 29, 2012. (AP Photo)
UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations General Assembly has voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state with a vote of 138 in favor, 9 against and 41 abstentions.
The resolution elevates the Palestinians, who have until now been considered an observer "entity."
The change in status came Thursday after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the U.N. to deliver "the birth certificate of Palestine." Abbas appealed to all nations to vote in favor of the resolution as "an investment in peace."
In the central celebration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds crowding into the main square waved Palestinian flags and chanted "God is great" after the vote.
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor said the only way to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians was through agreements between the parties, not through the United Nations.
Prosor said the U.N. can't break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and land of Israel. He accused Abbas of ignoring history.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the vote places further obstacles in the path of peace. She said real progress toward two-state solution would not be made by simply pressing the green voting button.
In a statement ahead of the vote, Abbas said the Palestinians "remain committed" to a two-state solution to their conflict with Israel, adding: "our hand remains extended in peace."
The United States, Israel's closest ally, mounted an aggressive campaign in hopes of heading off the vote. In a last-ditch move Wednesday, a U.S. official promised Abbas that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator next year if Abbas abandoned the effort to seek statehood. An aide to Abbas said the Palestinian leader refused.
Thousands of Palestinians from rival factions celebrated in the streets of the West Bank Thursday. The vote won't immediately bring independence, but the Palestinians see it as a historic step in their effort to win global recognition.
The non-member observer status of the Palestinians could also open the way for possible war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court.