The U.S. and Israel had warned UN recognition could delay achievement of an indepedent Palestinian state through peace talks with Israel.
BY MATTHEW KALMAN IN BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK AND JONATHAN LEMIRE
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2012
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after he addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the speech, which said the historic vote was the last chance for a two-state solution, "defamatory" and "venomous."
The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to upgrade the status of Palestine to nonmember state — rejecting warnings from the United States and Israel that the designation could damage prospects for peace.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN it was “being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine” shortly before the General Assembly approved the measure 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions.
Wild celebrations erupted in the Palestinian territories following the vote, which altered Palestine’s status at the UN from an “entity” to a “nonmember observer state” — the designation held by the Vatican.
Though largely symbolic, the change gives some international recognition for Palestinian control of its disputed territory. Abbas called it the “last chance” to save the two-state solution.
But Israel warned that the vote could embolden Palestinian extremists and lead to more bloodshed.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s UN ambassador, accused the UN of trying to “break the 4,000-year-old bond” between the people of Israel and their land.
Secretary of State Clinton said the resolution “places further obstacles in the path of peace.”
But only a handful of countries sided with Israel, which opposed the measure in part because it could allow Palestinians to pursue war crime charges in the International Criminal Court. In an attempt to ward off such prosecutions, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would eliminate U.S. aid to the Palestinians if such charges are brought.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Palestinians wave Fatah and Palestinian flags during a rally in support of the Palestinian U.N. bid for observer state status in Gaza City Thursday. Without specificying how, Israel has vowed to respond to any effort to use the upgraded status to the Palestinians' advantage in their conflict. The vote paves the way for Palestinian access to the International Criminal Court, which could expose Israel to action on alleged war crimes and settlement building.
Before the vote, the United Nations’ official Twitter handle mistakenly tweeted the “urgency of reaching 1-state solution” — rather than a two-state solution. The tweet was deleted.
The UN vote was a historic triumph for the Palestinians, even though the successful petition was a downgrade from a year ago, when Abbas sought full member status.
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza to cheer the UN’s decision.
Fared Al-Atrash, a Bethlehem lawyer, held his 5-year-old daughter on his shoulders .
“I brought her here tonight so she could hear President Abbas telling the world that we have a home of our own and we want to live in peace,” he said.
Hala Rihan, 8, and her brother Mohammed, 8, proudly waved Palestinian flags that were taller than they were.
“My children must learn when they are still young that we have our own country,” said their mother, Shireen.