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UN vote recognizes state of Palestine over U.S. objection

By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:15 p.m. HST, Nov 29, 2012

UNITED NATIONS » The United Nations voted overwhelmingly today to recognize a Palestinian state, a long-sought victory for the Palestinians and an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States.

The resolution upgrading the Palestinians' status to a nonmember observer state at the U.N. was approved by a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions, in the 193-member world body.

A Palestinian flag was quickly unfurled on the floor of the General Assembly, behind the Palestinian delegation. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds crowded into the main square waved Palestinian flags and chanted "God is great." Others who had watched the vote on outdoor screens and television sets hugged, honked and set off fireworks before dancing in the streets.

Real independence, however, remains an elusive dream until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis, who warned that the General Assembly action will only delay a lasting solution. Israel still controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and access to Gaza, and it accused the Palestinians of bypassing negotiations with the campaign to upgrade their U.N. status.

The United States immediately criticized the historic vote. "Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path peace," U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the vote "unfortunate" and "counterproductive."

The United States and Israel voted against recognition, joined by Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the General Assembly shortly before the vote "defamatory and venomous," saying it was "full of mendacious propaganda" against Israel. Netanyahu called the vote meaningless.

Abbas had told the General Assembly that it was "being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine." Abbas said the vote is the last chance to save the two-state solution.

After the vote, Netanyahu said the U.N. move violated past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and that Israel would act accordingly, without elaborating what steps it might take.

Today's vote came on the same day, Nov. 29, that the U.N. General Assembly in 1947 voted to recognize a state in Palestine, with the jubilant revelers then Jews. The Palestinians rejected that partition plan, and decades of tension and violence have followed.

Just before today's vote, Israel's U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that "the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace" and that the U.N. can't break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.

The vote had been certain to succeed, with most member states sympathetic to the Palestinians. Several key countries, including France, this week announced they would support the move to elevate the Palestinians from the status of U.N. observer to nonmember observer state.

Unlike the more powerful U.N. Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, and the resolution to raise the Palestinian status only required a majority vote for approval.

The vote grants Abbas an overwhelming international endorsement for his key position: establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. With Netanyahu opposed to a pullback to the 1967 lines, this should strengthen Abbas' hand if peace talks resume.

The overwhelming vote also could help Abbas restore some of his standing, which has been eroded by years of standstill in peace efforts. His rival, Hamas, deeply entrenched in Gaza, has seen its popularity rise after an Israeli offensive on targets linked to the Islamic militant group there earlier this month.

Israel has stepped back from initial threats of harsh retaliation for the Palestinians seeking U.N. recognition, but government officials warned that Israel would respond to any Palestinian attempts to use the upgraded status to confront Israel in international bodies.

The Palestinians now can gain access to U.N. agencies and international bodies, most significantly the International Criminal Court, which could become a springboard for going after Israel for alleged war crimes or its ongoing settlement building on war-won land.

However, in the run-up to the U.N. vote, Abbas signaled that he wants recognition to give him leverage in future talks with Israel, and not as a tool for confronting or delegitimizing Israel, as Israeli leaders have alleged.

Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Bradley Klapper in Washington, Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem and Mohammed Daraghmeh and Karin Laub in Ramallah contributed.

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peanutgallery wrote:
The world has lost it's collective mind. A group of terrorists just got recognition by the U.N. Unbelievable.
on November 29,2012 | 11:38AM
thebostitch wrote:
That says clearly who is the UN and what they stand for!
on November 29,2012 | 04:49PM
IAmSane wrote:
Most Palestinians are just normal folks just like you and me. It's Hamas and other groups like them that is the problem.
on November 29,2012 | 10:29PM
allie wrote:
This is not Hamas. This is Fatah. Odd that there is any controversy in UN recognizing the peaceful Palestinians who have recognized Israel. But the USA is, as we know, a servant if israeli interests. Sad indeed and it continues to cost us plenty.
on November 29,2012 | 12:31PM
64hoo wrote:
wrong the palestinians no matter if its hamas or fatah never did and will never recognized isreal as a state. so don't say they have recognized isreal because there goal is to wipe isreal off the map. and also as i see it the palestinians already have a state its called JORDAN where most of the people of JORDAN are palestians. so they have a state. the UN sucks.
on November 29,2012 | 04:46PM
64hoo wrote:
allie here is another one did you know that all palestinian authority in palestine including hamas and fatah, they all believe we are decendents of monkeys and pigs. how does it feel to find out you came from a monkey or a pig. thats what they think of you.
on November 29,2012 | 09:57PM
hawaiikone wrote:
The beginning of the end.
on November 29,2012 | 12:59PM
IAmSane wrote:
Everyday is the "beginning of the end" to you people.
on November 29,2012 | 10:32PM
hawaiikone wrote:
"you people"? And you claim sanity?
on November 30,2012 | 06:59AM
Honto5 wrote:
As absurd and hard to grasp as this vote in the UN for a terrorist State like Palestine may seem, it parallels with Civil Unions and Gay Marriages. If you’re persistent enough and smart enough to outwit what is morally right or good common sense and create a façade that you’re being treated as a victim, then public opinions and views can change and shift until eventually it’s easier to accept and go along than to disagree with public opinion.
on November 29,2012 | 01:00PM
RichardCory wrote:
Yes, the parallels between terrorism and civil unions run deep. What a bright little philosopher you are. I always love coming to the Star Advertiser comments to see just how crazy people can be. I am never disappointed.
on November 29,2012 | 05:33PM
ichiban wrote:
This event is exactly the reason why I oppose the United Nations trying to impose their laws and rulings upon the USA. There are too many factions (nations) that make up the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council that oppose to our way of life. I honestly feel the UN has outlived its usefulness. Their UN police force along with NATO patrol do no have the right armament to carry out their duties. The US pays for the majority of bill in the daily operation of the UN. Have other nations pay their fair share or dismantle this agency. A gloomy outlook, does someone have an alternate solution?
on November 29,2012 | 02:37PM
64hoo wrote:
yes i do, kick the UN out of the UNITED STATES and don't even be involved with the UN. also get out of NATO because thats a EUROPEAN problem not an american problem. so we should just get out an take care of our own country and ourselfs.
on November 29,2012 | 05:12PM
Kapcity wrote:
Amen to that!
on November 29,2012 | 07:17PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Strange stuff....let's see:

Israel is a member of the UN

The UN now recognizes Palestine as a state.

Palestine refuses to recognize Israel as a state.

You gotta admit, those people are very confusing.

on November 29,2012 | 04:02PM
st1d wrote:
strange how the u.n. gives recognition to palestine in light of their (palestine) goal of destroying israel and eliminating the jews. doesn't sound like a peaceful organization at all.
on November 29,2012 | 05:50PM
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