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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  • Comment number 326.

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

  • Comment number 325.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Sorry to hear that the Israeli government is so negative. In the end, this Israeli government and no Israeli government will be able to stop the process of the Palestinian people getting their own State.

    Happy to see that the whole of the United Nations has moved on.This is the only way to reach a peaceful solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    Fantastic news at last for the Palestinians. As a British citizen who has lived and worked for an NGO in the West Bank I can say with confidence that the people of Palestine deserve recognition and representation. Direct 'peace talks' haven't reaped any positive progress so far so it is important that they have finally succeeded in seeking other means to protect their human rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    Only Israelis would fail to see the irony of objecting to this democratic vote, while happily ignoring UN Resolutions calling on them (for example) to stop building illegal settlements.

    So hypocritical.

    And Clinton agrees with Israel? I cannot imagine why...wait....does her party get loads of funding from Jewish organisations???
    No, couldn't be that, could it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    I'm sorry if this sounds really dumb but can someone explain to why the UN vote has hurt the peace process?

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    At last the negotiations can come out of the back rooms into the international arena. All the dirty laundry can come out now, we'll see what both sides are really about. Now there's a more even playing field to hammer out peace. Israel grow up you're a big boy with nukes, learn to be loving to your brother. Hamas recognise Israel as a state and get on with peace making. US keep your nose out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    Look what I found about an Israeli war criminal "Foreign secretary William Hague then issued a certificate declaring that Livni was visiting the UK on a "special mission" which granted her immunity from prosecution" hence why Hague doesn't want international law to apply in Palestine - make up your own minds people

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    well it is about time

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    Most anti Palestinian comments are thumbed down so viciously. If people knew the facts i.e. history about Palestine and how historically the Jews have always lived on that land, they won't be running their mouths like this. Personally I think Israel should cease all future settlement building and Hamas should cease ALL rocket fire especially from civilian areas. Both nations should embrace peace

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    Israel and the United States are showing their true colors. Their obstinance on this matter is creating "the problem". I am not sure that they really want peace, because that would mean loss of perceived dominance. Shame on both countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Mark Regev - the most famous liar on the face of the planet. He should come to Britain and do a stand-up tour of our nightclubs, everyone here laughs at him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    "This will hurt peace" - what peace? What a useless remark. Sour grapes IMO. This cannot be any worse than the situation has been since 1948. Time to move on and grow up in the world. Difficult? Probably, but please try.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    A step in the right direction, would have been more satisfactory if UK had voted in favour as well.

  • Comment number 312.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    UN members, including the USA, must stop all financial and other aid, other than food, to both Israel and Palestine until such time as a two state structure based on the 1967 borders is negotiated, with Jerusalem as a shared capital city. Only then there will be any hope of peace

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    @Bill, you been to israel, are you deep into it have you experienced both sides? if not then you don't fully understand it at all sorry to be direct but israel army living with citizens to protect them not use them as shields lol, go to palenstine and israel and see for yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    Netanyahu looked to be a sure bet in the up coming Israeli election, in spite of his blunder of going to the US and attempt to influence the American election by publicly siding with Mitt Romney,

    But with the way he handled the recent Hama conflict and PLO's UN bid, and the outcome of both events, Netanyahu just opened the door a bit more for his political opponents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    The U.N. is a sovereignty robbing body exploited by Israel and others when it suits them.

    If Israel was sincere about peace in the forum in which it seeks to condemn Palestine, the UN, it should sign up to the UN Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Even Iran has signed it.

    Israel is a rogue state which should return to its agreed 1964 boarders, & end its aggressive occupation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Hamas are committed to the destruction of Israel. Gaza is the poorer as Hamas are more interested in acquiring weapons than building the infrastructure of Gaza.


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