United Nations, Nov 30: Palestine overwhelmingly won a historic UN General Assembly vote which will upgrade its status to non-member observer state at the world body, a stinging diplomatic setback to the US and Israel which had strongly opposed the bid.
 India was among the 138 nations in the 193-member body that voted in favour of the resolution, which accords Palestine recognition as observer state from its current entity status.
 The US and Israel were among the nine countries that opposed the resolution while 41 countries abstained.
 The Palestinians, led by their President Mahmoud Abbas, cheered exuberantly when the results of the voting were announced. The delegation held up a Palestinian flag inside the General Assembly hall as members congratulated each other.
 Speaking to reporters after the vote, Palestine's envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour said he hopes to soon see the Palestinian flag flying outside the UN building along with those of the other 193 nations once the opposition to their bid ended at the Security Council.
 He said Palestine has always been ready to engage in negotiations to achieve lasting peace.
 Addressing the General Assembly before the vote, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said his nation had come to the UN for the vote at a time when it was "still tending to its wounds" from the latest Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip.
 The vote came on the same day that the UN observed the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians.
 Abbas said UN now had a "moral and historic duty" to "salvage the chances for peace" and "issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine" on an urgent basis.
 The vote could enable Palestine to access bodies like the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which prosecutes people for genocide, war crimes and major human rights violations. Some nations like the UK have said Palestine could use access to the ICC to complain about Israel.
 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "an important vote" has taken place in the General Assembly. "Today's vote underscores the urgency of a resumption of meaningful negotiations. We must give new impetus to our collective efforts to ensure that an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine lives side by side with a secure State of Israel," Ban said in his remarks after the votes were cast.
 The US termed the resolution as "unfortunate and counterproductive" and said lasting peace between Israel and Palestine can only be achieved through direct negotiations and not by pressing a "green voting button here in this hall."
 "Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it," US Permanent Representative to the UN Susan Rice in explanation of the vote.
 She said the only way to establish a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through crucial, "if painful", work of direct negotiations between the parties.
 "Passing any resolution (does not) create a state where none indeed exists or change the reality on the ground. The vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting legibility for UN membership. It does not. This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state," she added.
 Rice said the resolution will not do anything to change the lives of the Palestinian people.
 "The United States calls upon both the parties to resume direct talks without preconditions on all the issues that divide them," Rice said.
  "Long after the votes have been cast, long after the speeches have been forgotten, it is the  Palestinians and the Israelis who must still talk to each other—and listen to each other—and find a way to live side by side in the land they share," she said.
 The symbolic vote signified the huge international backing for Palestine and came as a stinging defeat for Israel and the US.
 Israel's Permanent Representative to the UN Ron Prosor said Israel would not compromise on its security and the Palestinians must recognise the "Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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