Voices: Palestinian UN vote

  • Published

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 Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said this was the "last chance to save the two-state solution" with Israel. An Israeli government spokesman, on the other hand, said the move had taken Palestinians and Israelis out of a negotiating process.

Here, people from both sides give their perspective on the vote and its significance for the future.

Khader Abbara, Palestinian in Bethlehem

Last night's UN vote was a historic moment for us. All the people of Bethlehem gathered in the main square to celebrate. People were very happy.

This move has a huge significance for our cause. It has strengthened the peaceful path. That is very important because throughout the past 20 years we saw the diplomatic resistance fail and the violent one flourishing.

The resistance in Gaza proved that you achieve more through violence than through diplomacy. This is the tragic truth.

The vote gives us more freedom. The bilateral process had chained our hands and restricted our movement. Now we have been released out of bilateral negotiations and we have room to move. We can go the International Criminal Court or the UN Human Rights Committee and present our case there.

This is an enormous push for the diplomatic resistance, and great news for Abbas and his Fatah faction, who can tell Hamas: "You see, my alternative is better than yours!"

I hope this is only a step towards a total recognition of the Palestinian state.

Edgar Stiris, Israeli in Haifa

Despite what our government might think, this is a step forward, not a step backward.

The biggest significance of this vote is the recognition from the whole world that there is such thing as a Palestinian entity and that its people live under great injustice.

Unfortunately, this also means the deepening of the Israeli diplomatic isolation and the last thing Israel needs right now is to be isolated.

I am terrified for this country. We can't go against the entire world.

The Israeli government should wake up, change its attitude and stop living in the past. It should freeze illegal settlements and sit down and talk to Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel is a victim of an election season and this will no doubt affect the way our government officials will react to this process. I fear that Israel will lose its chance for real peace because of ego, racism and prejudice, which the extreme right here has plenty of.

Benjamin Netanyahu has a real chance to enter the history books along side Mahmoud Abbas as the people who brought peace to one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Middle East.

The UN vote is a finish line: either the end of violence or the end of an opportunity.

Ilan Schvartzman, Israeli in Beersheba

The vote doesn't have a lot of meaning. I feel that if the Palestinians want a Palestinian state, it should come as a peace agreement between the two sides.

We have offered them agreements on countless occasions and they have proven time and time again that they don't want an agreement.

If the Palestinians are happy with this vote, then I am happy, as long as this does not translate in reality into more missiles, rockets and exploding buses.

So many countries voted for this, but I am not really bothered about the number. The countries we have strong diplomatic and business relations with are supporting us and we know we can count on them.

The world doesn't understand us. Everyone watches the biased reports from BBC and CNN on which they form their opinions.

We'll just have to wait and see what this vote will change.

Moe Masri, Palestinian in Jerusalem

We are so happy to finally get something. This is the start of the Palestinian state. We are happy because there are 138 countries who believe in us, who believe in the two-state solution.

I'd like to thank all those countries for supporting us.

I have lots of Israeli friends who stand for the same thing, just like us. But I am not sure about their government.

I'd like to ask them, and all those countries who voted against the move: why? Do you not believe in peace? We gave up 78% of our land. We gave up something. Should we not get something in return?

You do support freedom for the people in Syria, why are you not supporting freedom for us?

Now, if Israel worries that we could go to the International Criminal Court, then I would advise them not to commit criminal acts and work for real peace.

If somebody commits a crime against you, you have the freedom to take them to court. Is there something wrong with that?

It's been 20 years of talking and talking. Our history shows that talking doesn't solve anything.

I am very proud of this freedom!

Interviews by Krassimira Twigg