The vote is in. In a victory for its right to self-determination in the international arena, Palestine has been granted observer-state status at the United Nations, after 138 general assembly member states—an overwhelming majority—voted to approve the designation.
"I believe that Palestinians have the right to its own state. I believe that Israel has the right to peace and security," UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon said following the historic vote. He added, "we must give new impetus to our collective efforts" toward a two-state solution.
As a sign of increasing momentum for an independent Palestine state, dozens of countries voiced their support for the bid in the days preceding the vote.
Contrasting that global trend and amplifying its outlier status, the United States—which lobbied hard against the Palestinian bid and predictably voted in opposition—remained unmoved by Palestine's aspirations, siding with its longtime ally Israel in the vote. Seven other countries voted against including Panama, Palau, Canada, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Czech Republic and Micronesia.
The new UN status will allow Palestine voting rights in the world body, including access to the International Criminal Court. According to Russia Today, Israel is "bitterly opposed" to the recognition "fearing a possible investigation into war crimes committed by the Jewish state" in Gaza.
Al Jazeera writes, that such status is an "indirect recognition of their claims on statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip," and could provide an avenue through which Palestine might reclaim the occupied territories.
"We are humbled by this historic support," said Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki."We are humbled by this historic support," Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, told the UN's general assembly today.
Palestinians were previously listed as a UN observer "entity" with no voting rights.
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The vote is being held on the 65th anniversary of the UN vote to partition what was previously British-ruled Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestine Liberation executive committee, argues that the pursuit of statehood is both a human right and a necessary diplomatic step to reaching unity in the region:
Rather than being perceived as a substitute for negotiations, our efforts are consistent with the international community's objective of achieving a peaceful solution whereby Palestine and Israel can live side by side in peace and security. This aim will never be achieved by giving one of these states a veto on the other's existence.We are trying to create momentum for progress and credibility for legal and political solutions.Negotiations can work only if Israel is given a clear signal that it must abide by the laws of nations and the values of humanity at large.
We are trying to create momentum for progress and credibility for legal and political solutions.
In anticipation of the final count, thousands of Palestinians from rival factions, including Hamas supporters, celebrated in cities across the West Bank. Al Jazeera correspondent, Joseph Dana, wrote on Twitter: "People dancing in the streets of Ramallah."
In the days preceding the vote, many key member states—including Spain, Russia, France, Switzerland and Denmark— voiced their support for the statehood believing that the enhanced status will bring a peaceful resolution to the on-going conflict with Israel.
Forty one countries abstained from the vote. After initial opposition, Germany flipped to abstention citing fears that the resolution could be counterproductive to the peace process. The Associated Press reports that the "decision to abstain rather than to vote against is a blow to Israel, which counts on Germany as a firm ally."
The UK opted to abstain, as well, having waited until the eleventh hour to commit their vote.