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 366.

    Israel has the right to defend itself. What most people don't know is that the war against Israel is fought on two levels : terror attacks and media. Let's face it. We don't get the whole truth from the mainstream media.

    "Why doesn't Israel make peace with Hamas?" - Why didn't the world make peace with Germany in 1939? - that way we could have avoided the world war 2. Or could we have?

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    I stopped reading comments around 50 or so when I realized it was all anti-Israel. I don't get it really. I understand why some would question the settlements, I understand why some would question the borders or the Palestinians right to statehood, but I saw no mention of violence initiated by Palestinians towards Israel. Where is the outrage about targeting Israeli civilians?

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    Hey Bill(304). Every Israeli citizen over 18 is a reservist because there is mandatory military service in Israel. Does that give Hamas the right to bomb resedential areas?

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Shame on the UK for abstaining on such an important vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    Isreal is making excuses about Hamas so they can take Palestian land andd occupy them. Fireing Rockets isn`t a big deal becuase obvously they do it as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    Yesterday was an historic day for the Palestinians. Unfortunately a sad day for the BBC. The BBC web page headlines with the Israeli position enclosed in quotes. The same as Israeli casualties were headlined in the recent conflict and palestinians contained in the piecea. Presumably this is the editors/ managers and not the generally fair minded BBC journalists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    While I agree that Israel has done bad things to the palestinians, it's the Palestinians that has at every turn rejected peace. When Israel comprimised in peace negotiations under Rabin and Barak it was Arafat that threw it back in their faces by rejecting a peace accord that would have given Palestinians statehood. The deal offered was a deal of the majority of Palestinians were in favour of.

  • Comment number 359.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    well, if the UN didn't give the Israelis their own country or gave the Philistines theirs at the same time in 1947 we would be in a different boat? The Jews seem to get their own way?
    Blame the un for this mess. Gaza does not belong to Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    This is the begining of the end of the Zionist state. It is a state that never acknowledged the rights of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and land. It violated every internal law and it never abided by the UN RULES. It is till to this minute building settlements on occupied lands and worse of all it is a racist state. How peace is possible with such a state???

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    Creation of Israel: On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13 for creation of the State of Israel.

    It is a terrible shame that Israel today neglects to reflect upon its own history and deny the Palestinians a rightful place among world's nations.

    Of course, the fact that Israel was carved out of what had been a unified "Palestine" is shamefully forgotten.

  • Comment number 355.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Let us gauge the mood on these boards when Hamas decides to resume its rocket operations. I wonder what these appeasers will say then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    I would be very interested to know the countries that were for and against as a proportion of the world's population. Also, it would be interesting to know the proportion of wealth of these countries. India China, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia, and most African countries are included. So, it is safe to say that only less than 5% of the world's population do not want to recognize Palestine as a State

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    This is a relief to me, it is a relief to see that the majority of the UN is no longer pandering to Israel for fear of seeming to be anti-semitic. It is a relief to me that the democratically elected government of Palestine is getting some recognition. Israel has been riding roughshod for too long with the support of their American friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    The actions of our government in all this makes me ashamed to be British.
    Being a good little poodle and doing what USA wants again eh? Hague a member of the conservative friends of Israel I see....
    And they actually want to prevent Palestine from having access to the International Criminal Court eh? I wonder why that would be....
    If I had a say in it we would end diplomatic relations with Israel!

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    Time to see concrete move from Israel. Shut down all construction in Occupied Territories and begin planning for withdrawal to pre 67 borders. This will be a clear signal that Israel is serious about negotiations.

    The World has spoken in an strong voice that movement is expected on the ground. If Hamas can make a compromise it is time for these people to have a Secure and Safe Home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    Look up The British-Israel World Federation. Born as a movement in the 19th century and federated in 1919 during the days when the "sun never set on the British Empire". From 1924, the organization maintained an office next to Buckingham Palace. In 1990, it moved to Putney on the Thames, but since 2003 has been based near Bishop Auckland in Co Durham

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    My gosh! Rubbish! this has gone on too long! it has to move one, business as usual wont do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    The future generations of this region deserve some stability finally after decades. Can someone please step up to the plate and make history now finally?


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