Palestinian UN vote will hurt peace, says Israel's Regev

 

Mark Regev: "This is negative political theatre because it takes us out of a negotiating process"

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Israel says a vote upgrading the Palestinian status at the United Nations is "negative political theatre" that will "hurt peace".

Government spokesman Mark Regev said the move had taken Palestinians and Israelis out of a negotiating process.

The General Assembly voted resoundingly to recognise the Palestinians as a non-member observer state on Thursday.

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

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

There were celebrations on the streets of Ramallah in the West Bank as the result was announced.

But Mr Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced Mr Abbas' bid as "litany of libellous charges against Israel".

"This is negative political theatre that takes us out of a negotiating process. It's going to hurt peace," Mr Regev told the BBC.

'New ball-game'

Some 138 members of the assembly, including many EU states, Russia, China, India and Brazil voted in favour of recognising the Palestinians as a non-member observer state.

President Mahmoud Abbas: "The last chance to save the two state solution"

Israel the US and seven other states, including Canada, the Marshall Islands and Panama, voted against the resolution. Forty-one nations including the UK and Germany abstained.

"The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine," Mr Abbas told the assembly in New York shortly before the vote.

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

At the scene

The parties began in Yasser Arafat Square long before Mr Abbas made his speech in New York. 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.

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 in New York.

A successful application for membership of the ICC would give the court jurisdiction in the territories, and could potentially be used to accuse Israelis of war crimes.

"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," the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's 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.

Settlement-building
Palestinians celebrate in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 29 November 2012 While Palestinians celebrated, Israeli officials denounced the UN General Assembly vote

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

Two decades of on-off negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank have failed to produce a permanent settlement, with the latest round of direct negotiations breaking down in 2010.

In January, several months of indirect "proximity talks" ended without any progress.

Palestinian negotiators insist that the building of Jewish settlements on occupied land must stop before they agree to resume direct talks.

Their Israeli counterparts say there can be no preconditions.

Mr Abbas was much criticised by many Palestinians for remaining on the sidelines of the conflict between the militant Hamas movement and Israel earlier this month in Gaza.

His Fatah movement, based in the West Bank, is deeply split from Hamas, which governs Gaza. Hamas has not been part of any peace talks with Israel and does not recognise Israel's right to exist.

Israel, the US and EU regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

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".

In the aftermath of the latest fighting, both Israel and Hamas have joined the international community in calling for a durable and comprehensive solution to the conflict.

 

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  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 26.

    ubya308:

    "The on-going failure to create a secure two state solution has been the single biggest diplomatic failure since World War 2."
    Yes and if the British had done their job properly instead of obsessing about the Suez canal we might have had a solution. See 'Balfour Declaration'! We have all let the Palestinians down.

  • rate this
    +56

    Comment number 25.

    I can't see why Israel is worried about what happens in the UN, its never cared about UN resolutions before. But the saddest thing about this situation, is that a nation that endured the Warsaw ghetto has inflicted its own ghetto on the Palestinians. You'd think if anyone had learned from history it would be them.

  • rate this
    -65

    Comment number 24.

    Totally agree with Israel. Sorry to the HYSers here who support the BBC and the Palllies.The international community supporting the Pallies are led by some very unpleasant dictatorships. Will someone please look at a map of Israel and the countries surrounding it, and then consider how much of Arab land has been stolen and how much the arabs still hold.The accusers of Israeli genocide are here

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 23.

    one step closer to prosecuting Israel for crimes against humanity - no wonder they are not happy (and thats truly a good sign)

  • rate this
    +39

    Comment number 22.

    shame on Britain for not voting yes for Palestine statehood. let us not forget that our "ALLIES" ISRAEL HAS KILLED MORE BRITISH SOLDIERS THAN THE TALIBAN!!!. I am ashamed of this government especially William Hague who is a member of the conservatives friends of Israel.

  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 21.

    It isn't true to say that the two sides cannot be reconciled. That remarkable man President Carter with Palestinian and Israeli MODERATES produced the Geneva Initiative in 2004 which answered the whole question. The moderates on both sides MUST get their voices heard. Sharon in 2000 and now Netanyahu seem hell bent on wrong footing the Palestinians. Let's hear the moderates.

  • rate this
    +49

    Comment number 20.

    So Israel doesn't want Palestine to be recognised by the UN? But wasn't the current State of Israel _created_ by a UN decision? Or has our newest nation already forgotten that gift?

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 19.

    It seems that Israel is doing all it can to undermine the democratic, moderate Fatah party and boost the reputation of Hamas amongst the Palestinians.

    Why else make concessions to Hamas, who portray them as a victory, whilst opposing Fatah's request for observer status. The only other reason is to stop the Palestinians from calling in the ICC, and surely Israel has nothing to fear from that?

  • rate this
    +42

    Comment number 18.

    when does Israel ever bother about what the UN says anyway?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 17.

    Oh for a world with no religion - then we could all live where we wanted and get along just fine....

  • rate this
    +47

    Comment number 16.

    Well they would say that wouldn't they. True to form little Billy Hague did as the Americans told him to.

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 15.

    We'll have to wait and see how this changes things but recognising the Palestinian right to statehood can only be a good thing for negotiations, at least in the long run. I'm struggling to understand why the US doesn't see this. Now negotiations will be between equals - or at least closer to equals.

  • rate this
    +91

    Comment number 14.

    Finally, a step towards recognising the Palestinian people's rights.

    I'm not saying who is right or wrong, but a more equal footing between them is the only way to even attempt negotiation.

    Doesn't matter which way you spin it, Israel is the interloper with a weak mandate from a book of myths.

  • rate this
    +63

    Comment number 13.

    I still can't beleive that Mr Hague didn't represent me at the UN and vote 'yes', instead of trying not to offend the Americans and Israelis by standing on the sidelines and abstaining.

    When will our government learn that they are responsible for a sovereign state which is allowed an opinion, even if our 'so-called' friends don't like what we say!

  • rate this
    +101

    Comment number 12.

    The Peace Process has been all but destroyed by the Israeli government's refusal to halt settlement construction. They have no interest in true peace because to status quo massively suits their interests. The gradual recognition of Palestinians' rights will promote peace, not talks which are continually and deliberately undermined.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 11.

    Dear Israel and Palestine : two wrongs don't make a right.

    Sort out your differences, and do it quickly.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 10.

    I like Israel, I support Israel and think they have a right to defend themselves but they really have to realise there is no moral arguement to avoid providing the Palestinian with a state from the land they should have had back in 1967. I understand Israels fear of there being a potential enemy state at its heart but its doing their reputation serious damage not giving them them a state.

  • rate this
    +74

    Comment number 9.

    Isreal and the USA are showing themselves to be somewhat isolated and flying in th face of global outrage at the immoral acts that Isreal imposes upon the PEOPLE of Palesitine in the name of self-defense.

    I won't go through the list of issues nor the fact that they have ignored UN mandates for decades and gone unpunished and supported further by the 'west' - not in my name though.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 8.

    @#1, Helo Thar:

    They would not stop murdering one another as they both have utterly conflicting views that cannot be reconciled.

    This is why the recent news is good news. It brings about more of an even playing field.

  • rate this
    +80

    Comment number 7.

    Well surprise surprise, Israel doesn't want a Palestinian presence in the UN - probably because it increases the probability of Israel being prosecuted for war crimes and genocide. Doubt this post will be published, nobody wants to listen to a Palestinian point of view.

 

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