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.

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

    Comment number 206.

    When you look rather than listen to what people say then its pretty obvious with settlements being built on occupied land there's not much intention of peace in the ruling elite of Israel. Ordinary Jews probably are in favour of a settlement. Probably similar situation with Palestinians. People have to insist their leaders end the violence and come to agreement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    You all seem seduced by the anti-Israel propaganda machine, conning you with exaggerated and false statistics and stories.

    So, I suppose its ok to back an authority, who operate under a constitution and within a culture that promotes and endorses the destruction of Israel and Jews, is it? And I suppose that deliberately targeted rockets into civilian areas and bombs on civilian buses is ok too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    > for David Haskell< Until this month Hamas and the irregulars had used short range rockets. I am not sure if the longer range rockets were used before the murder of the Hamas commander. It doesn't matter much. Chucking rockets about is bad show. BUT what was the purposes of the murder and retaliation? A provocation ? What does the IDF think and the casualties? and who stopped it? Blair NOT

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    176.jgarbuz actually the 1967 borders are the historical borders of Isreal, they are currently occupying more than that and refuse to leave even after Obama made it clear in Jan that he wished to see that happen. Of course I'll get downvoted for mentioning that Obama did say that but meh...their choice to not read this site instead to just comment without reading a thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Until the Palestini have their own 'patch' and are recognised as a state properly they will continue to be as unhappy as the Jews were before 1948!

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    There are very many Palestinians who just want peace, lets all give them a fair chance. They have little themselves unlike Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    So now the UN recognizes terrorist organisations as legitimate governments. It is an irrelevant decision anyway because without the cooperation of Israel there will be no Palestinian state until they renounce their avowed intention of destroying Israel . Killing neighbours and political opponents is hardly grounds for seeing Hamas in any light other than as a bar to peace in the middle east.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    A very small but nevertheless one hopes a welcome start to come-uppance for the Israeli state.

  • Comment number 198.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    In the Mid East, Israel is the David surrounded by the hostile Arab (& Islamist) giant. An island of sanity among large countries led to crazed and crazy leaders (Assad, Mursi, the mullahs of Iran, etc).

    If Iran, Hamas, etc ever get their wish & destroy Israel, the irredentist focus will be shifted to Kashmir and the former Mughal heartlands of northern India. The Hindu culture will be next..

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Isreal has the right to exist and defend itself but do not have the right to grab land because God says its their if thats the case then show me the contract. They also have no right to ethnically cleans its or occupied lands of Isrealy or Palestinian arabs. Give us all peace go to 1967 borders and Isreal should lease the occuipied lands for 30 years with a agreement to extend it 20 years later

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    Anyone who is pro-Israel... I'm coming to stay at your house, then I'm going to move my family in with me. You can have your bedroom, but even then I decide what goes into it and why. I'll also control the kitchen and you'll eat when I say so. If you even try and say no or hit me then I'll not only punish you but your children too. Why? Because my "God" said I could and it was my house already.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    One in the eye for the Zionists. Shame on the states which voted against and abstained: Canada and UK - disgraceful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Universal Peace, Israel took - through aggression - land that had been partitioned into Palestine. They continue to build on these lands, claiming that now that they have homes they belong to Israel. They refuse the Palestinians the right to work and live freely - as much as they were once refused those rights. Hamas is a terrible organisation. Israel's government is just as bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    So bombing innocent families and killing children doesn't "hurt peace"? The usual insidious hypocrisy from Israel here.

  • Comment number 191.

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

  • Comment number 190.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Isn't it interesting that my previous comments 10 minutes ago just disappeared.
    Strange, they must have been pro-Israeli, in opposition to the 95% pro-Palestinian ones appearing here.
    Wouldn't expect anything else from the BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Stop referring to Palestine as controlled by Hamas, it is Fatah that took this to the UN. Hamas control Gaza and Fatah control the West Bank.

    On a separate note congratulations Palestine, next stop the ICC

    Israel has only been around for 70 odd years, before that it was the Ottoman empire and then for the 1300 years before that it was under Islamic rule.
    So who is more deserving?

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    As a European, I always feel a deep sense of shame to hear news article saying: "The EU believes ... The EU fully endorses Israel's ..."

    Who is the EU and how does it represent us Europeans ?

    Every fellow European I've met is tired of the Israel-Palestine conflict and from all political currents agree Israel is the source of the problems!

    Yet the "EU" states the opposite and it represents us !


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