The United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a nonmember state Thursday, in a move that strengthens the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The vote tally was 138 yeas to 9 nays with 41 countries abstaining. The United States certainly seemed in the nay camp, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling the vote "unfortunate and counterproductive," and Ambassador Rice arguing the vote does not establish Palestinian statehood, and places "further obstacles in the path of peace."
More than 130 countries voted on Thursday to grant Palestine the upgraded status of nonmember observer state in the United Nations, a stinging defeat for Israel and the United States and a boost for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who was weakened by the recent eight days of fighting in Gaza.
The new ranking could make it easier for the Palestinians to pursue Israel in international legal forums, but it remained unclear what effect it would have on attaining what both sides say they want — a two-state solution.
“The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the state of Palestine,” he said before the vote.
But in the run-up to the vote, he and Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, blamed the other side for not doing enough to pursue peace.
”We have not heard one word from any Israeli official expressing any sincere concern to save the peace process,” Mr. Abbas said.
“On the contrary, our people have witnessed, and continue to witness, an unprecedented intensification of military assaults, the blockade, settlement activities and ethnic cleansing, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, and mass arrests, attacks by settlers and other practices by which this Israeli occupation is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement.”
“The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation,” he said.
The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a statement calling Mr. Abbas’s speech “defamatory and venomous” that was “full of mendacious propaganda against the IDF and the citizens of Israel.”