Palestinians win upgraded UN status by wide margin


There was applause as the result of the vote was confirmed

The UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state - a move strongly opposed by Israel and the US.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said this was the "last chance to save the two-state solution" with Israel.

Israel's UN envoy said the bid pushed the peace process "backwards", while the US said the move was "unfortunate".

The Palestinians can now take part in UN debates and potentially join bodies like the International Criminal Court.

The assembly voted 138-9 in favour, with 41 nations abstaining.

Hundreds of Palestinians celebrated on the streets of Ramallah, in the West Bank after the result was announced.

'Birth certificate'


The parties began in Yasser Arafat Square on Thursday morning - long before the voting.

Mr Abbas made his speech in New York just before 23:00 local time as crowds of people waving flags gathered around large screens carrying the live feed.

Fireworks erupted in Ramallah with the news of the vote. While Palestinians will see no changes on the ground with immediate effect, the symbolism is all-important.

There is also hope that access to UN bodies will bring new rights. A successful application for membership of the International Criminal Court could be used to accuse Israel of war crimes or make other legal claims against it.

"Sixty-five years ago on this day, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, which partitioned the land of historic Palestine into two states and became the birth certificate for Israel," Mr Abbas said shortly before the vote in New York.

"The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine," he said.

But Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the vote "meaningless", and said that Mr Abbas' address in New York had not been "the words of a man who wants peace".

Opponents of the bid say a Palestinian state should emerge only out of bilateral negotiations, as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords under which the Palestinian Authority was established.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote "unfortunate and counter-productive", saying it put more obstacles on the path to peace.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also called for more talks, saying the resolution underscored the need to resume meaningful peace negotiations.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool said there were celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

The UK abstained from the vote, as did Germany. The Czech Republic, Canada, the Marshall Islands and Panama were among the nations voting with the US and Israel.

In the West Bank, crowds celebrated the vote by waving flags and chanting "God is great!"

"For the first time, there will be a state called Palestine, with the recognition of the entire world," Amir Hamdan was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

"Today the world will hear our voice," he added.

Symbolic milestone

The Palestinians are seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the lands Israel captured in 1967.

While the move is seen as a symbolic milestone in Palestinian ambitions for statehood, the "Yes" vote will also have a practical diplomatic effect, says the BBC's Barbara Plett, at the UN.

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, says the only way to achieve peace is through negotiation

The Palestinians hope that access to UN bodies will bring new rights: A successful application for membership of the ICC could be used to accuse Israel of war crimes or make other legal claims against it.

"This is a whole new ball-game now. Israel will be dealing with a member of the international community, a state called Palestine with rights," senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi told the BBC.

"We will have access to international organisations and agencies and we will take it from there."

There had been lobbying by Israel and the US to try to delay the vote or change the text to obtain guarantees that no international legal action would be taken against Israel.

Last year, Mr Abbas asked the UN Security Council to admit the Palestinians as a member state, but that was opposed by the US.

How did key countries vote?

  • Voted for: France, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Turkey, China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria
  • Voted against: Israel, US, Canada
  • Abstained: UK, Germany, Australia, Colombia

Mr Abbas was much criticised by many Palestinians for remaining on the sidelines of the conflict earlier this month in Gaza and efforts to achieve a ceasefire with Israel.

His Fatah movement, based in the West Bank, is deeply split from the militant Hamas movement which governs Gaza.

Gaza's Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh said in a statement sent to the BBC that Hamas' "support for the UN bid is based on the 'rule of non-recognition of the occupier'... and the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland".


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Israel and the Palestinians


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  • Comment number 174.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    The rule of the various Muslim Caliphates in "Israel", which was a foreign rule, extended for a period of 432 years – Jewish rule of “Palestine” extended over a period of over 2000 years.

    In conclusion :)

    The place has been at war for thousands of years, if it is solved then it will be one of the biggest triumphs of modern and historic history.

    In my DNA is haplo gene G2c, peace&love

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    166. Justin
    Grow up and go find another argument. The US, Israel and most other "developed" nations are where they are today through subjugation and abuse of other, lesser developed nations. Yes, America and Israel are more affluent, but if they are full of indoctrinated, over-opinionated ignorami like yourself then I would say that Palestine would be a far better place to live.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    If I was a politician in northern Europe, I too would have voted yes. Multiculturalism at play!

    Nigeria voted 'yes' and that is hysterical considering the corruption we have been told exists there.

    Turkey, China, Russia, Brazil etc. equally funny.

    Like I said, the UN is a total farce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    @ 138.

    The Friends of Israel represent the same people as AIPAC, Kissinger, every US president, Clinton (both), Cameron, Blair, Milliband (both), Brown, etc all do. They represent Zionism which is all about land for the elite. Israel is a Rothschild fiefdom disguised as a homeland for the long suffering Jews (who just so happen to be suffering despite Israel being bombed into existence).

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Quelle surpise!!!
    A few days after outrageously bombarding infants & children Israel announces yet more housing to be built, isn't that the way they did it last time too?
    I don't understand the US's concern over Iran when there's already a nuclear capable terrorist state in the M.E.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    I expect that Palestine will join the ICC and within a matter of months charge Israel with war crimes and crimes against humanity. I also expect favorable rulings which Israel and the U.S. will ignore as non-signatories to the Rome Statute. All Western European countries are (as is Canada) and as such they will be bound by these rulings. Interesting times ahead for Israel and the complicit U.S.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Long Live Palestine !

    You have been denied of basic rights of a nation for too long. being a nation status has nothing to do with peace . American / Israel evils will see the end of their days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    All those who are slating the USA and Israel. I bet you would rather live in those places than Palestine? ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    The United Nations is 'the' problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    I'm glad Palestine now has recognition so that the US/Israel can't treat them like sub-human scum without reprisal, forcing them to live in deprivation whilst imposing conditions deliberately designed to engender the worst possible reaction. One day the US will abandon Israel to the wrath of their neighbours, just like they abandoned the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and all their other "puppets".

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    ...Dr Bob (#154) I've just marked yer down! Why? Because it wasn't Jewish backing that destroyed the WTC or committed 7/7.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Israel does not need to talk to Hama.

    It can marginalize Hama by providing a viable alternative to the Palestinians in Gaza. But based on how Israel reacted to PLO's (West Bank) bid for UN recognition, the only option facing all Palestinians is to continue being a conquered people kept in "compounds" called Gaza and (portion of) West Bank.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    I think the pallestinians purposely fire into israel to for propaganda. they know full well that if they attack israel an inch, they will get smashed a mile. and israel has every right to do that. the israeli armed forces is a defence force afterall i suggest looking up Pat condell on youtube and listen to his views on the Pal-Israel conflict. its pure jew-hating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    @ 158. DavidinUSA

    Always makes me wonder why an American, posting on a British web site is backing Israel? Do share please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    I support recognition of Palestine and the Palestinian people.

    President Carter - last president to really work for peace in the middle east - wonder if that's why he was standing alone in the last picture of living presidents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Thankfully the UK did the right thing and withheld its approval.

    The UK suffered from Islamist violence on 7/7 - this was correctly called an act of terrorism. But when Palestinian Islamists plant bombs to murder Israeli Jews, many (eg in this forum) see it as "resistance".

    Duh - kill my people and you're a terrorist, but kill others far away and you're a freedon fighter? Moronic tosh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    On one confition, that Hamas are dis-banded or leave Palestine before any negotiations start

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    I think its time for the UK to grow a backbone and get the leash placed by America/Israel off their necks.

    No Major surprises from America or Israel, sometimes i confuse the two for the same! Maybe Israel should be declared an American State?

    Congrats to Palestine on this achievement and to everyone for recognising their rights.

    P.s. Shame on you Bosnia and Singapore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    I foresee only more trouble & pain for Palestine.


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