UN votes for Palestinian statehood
Palestine has been awarded the status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations by an overwhelming majority of 138 Yes votes to nine No votes and 41 abstentions.
The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, exchanged accusations and recriminations in speeches preceding the vote. The resolution passed despite stiff opposition from the US and Israel.
“Palestine comes today to the UN General Assembly at a time when it is still tending to its wounds and still burying its beloved martyrs . . . who have fallen victims to the latest Israeli aggression,” Mr Abbas began.
He called the resolution “the last chance to save the two-state solution” and “a final attempt to achieve peace”.
The recent eight-day war between Hamas and Israel “confirmed once again the urgent, pressing need to end the Israeli occupation,” Mr Abbas said, repeatedly referring to “this racist, colonial occupation”.
Mr Prosor noted that this week marked the 35th anniversary of the visit to Jerusalem by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s. Then Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, who received Sadat, “said that for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected. The Palestinians must be prepared to recognise the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end hostilities once and for all.
“The people of Israel wait for a leader that is willing to follow the path of President Sadat,” Mr Prosor continued. “For as long as President Abbas prefers symbolism over reality, as long as he prefers to travel to New York for UN resolutions rather than to Jerusalem for dialogue,” peace could not be achieved.
Ireland voted for the resolution. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said: “Ireland has long championed the cause of Palestinian statehood, as well as the vital importance for the entire Middle East region of a comprehensive peace settlement based on two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.”
Mr Gilmore said the vote “represents an important step for the Palestinian people on their path towards full statehood, as well as for all those who look forward to the day when Palestine can rightfully take its place as a full member of the United Nations”.
He said Mr Abbas had made clear the decision would open the way for the Palestinians to return to substantive peace negotiations with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his government. "I welcome this commitment which formed an important element in our decision to vote in favour of this resolution.
“I urge both sides to now return to the negotiation table and to complete that urgent and historic task with which they are both charged. As recent events in Gaza have so sadly underlined, the need for such a peace deal only grows more urgent and pressing with every passing day.
“No one knows better than the Irish people the onerous responsibility which conflict resolution and peace-building entails and the difficult and painful compromises which it is ultimately likely to involve."
MrAbbas and Mr Netanyahu would have the unstinting support of the entire international community "if they are prepared to take the necessary risks for peace and negotiate a comprehensive peace deal, resolving all core issues”, he said.