Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestine Wins Status of State in Vote by U.N. Assembly

New York Times

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.

Still, the vote offered a showcase for an extraordinary international lineup of support for the Palestinians and constituted a deeply symbolic achievement for their cause, made even weightier by arriving on the 65th anniversary of the General Assembly vote that divided the former British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab — a vote that Israel considers the international seal of approval for its birth.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, about 2,000 Palestinians gathered to celebrate in a central square named after the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Security forces fired into the air and people applauded, danced in the streets and honked car horns when the results were broadcast to the crowd.

“We are witnessing exceptional moments after 65 years of injustice, suffering and pain,” said Jibril Rajoub, the member of Fatah Central Committee. “We are going to witness an Israeli American efforts to keep this resolution ink on paper.”

The tally, in which 138 members voted yes, 9 voted no and 41 abstained, took place after a speech by Mr. Abbas to the General Assembly, in which he called the moment a “last chance” to save the two-state solution amid a narrowing window of opportunity.

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