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UN to pass `resounding` vote on Palestine`s statehood bid

Publish Date29/11/2012 12:00:23 PM

Last Update29/11/2012 12:43:34 PM

The United Nations General Assembly is set Thursday to implicitly recognize a sovereign state of Palestine, regardless to threats by the United States and Israel to boycott the Palestinian Authority and punish it by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government.

The vote would update Palestine`s status to a non-member observer state in the United Nations.

Germany informed Israel on Thursday that it has decided to abstain from voting on the Palestinian bid to upgrade its status.

The Czech Republic, previously expected to oppose the bid, is likely to refrain from voting as well. At least 15 European countries will vote in favor of the request while the rest are to abstain.

To date, 132 countries, a combined total of 75% of the world’s population, have formally recognized the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders.

A major concern for the western community, U.S. to be precise, is that the Palestinians might use their new status to try to join the International Criminal Court. That prospect particularly worries the Israelis, who fear that the Palestinians might press for an investigation of their practices in the occupied territories.

Spain  and France have already voiced their commitment to vote for the resolution. The United Kingdom has signaled it would be prepared to support the measure provided that Palestinians offered assurances that they would not join the International Criminal Court, among other steps.

For more than a year now, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to evade peace negotiations with Israel via unilaterally seeking state recognition at the UN.

Closest allies, U.S. and Israel, mounted an aggressive campaign to head off the 193-nation assembly vote, which Palestine viewed as historic step in their quest for global recognition.

Palestinians say they need a UN recognition that the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – lands Israel captured in 1967 – is for Palestine, in order to be able to resume peace talks with Israel.

A final-ditch stir on Wednesday, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns met with Mr. Abbas at a hotel in New York to try and persuade him to abandon the effort to seek statehood, and promised him the U.S. President Barak Obama would re-engage as a mediator in 2013. However, Mr. Abbas refused, said his aide Saeb Erieqat.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, warned that the UN vote "will not fulfill" the goal of independent Palestinian and Israeli states, which the U.S. strongly promotes and supports that they live side by side in peace.

"We need an environment conducive to that," she told reporters in Washington. "And we`ve urged both parties to refrain from actions that might in any way make a return to meaningful negotiations that focus on getting to a resolution more difficult."

Mr. Abbas is in dire, crucial need for a bid win if he wants to maintain leadership and relevance in Palestine, especially following Hamas`s rising popularity after they claimed a victory in Gaza following bomb tug-of-war with Israel. Seemingly rival party Fatah, where Abbas sprang from, has been sidelined as Hamas won Palestinians` hearts.

Nonetheless, the vote passing means enhancement of Palestine’s status at the UN is a sovereign right, anchored in the spirit and letter of international law.

Self-determination is an inalienable right, enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sixty-five years ago, Israel was admitted to the UN based on its commitment to implement General Assembly resolutions 181 and 194. Palestine’s admission has been awaiting implementation for well over half a century.

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