Palestine wins de facto UN recognition of sovereign state

Palestine vote

The 193-nation UN General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue "birth certificate."

The UN victory for the Palestinians was a diplomatic setback for the United States and Israel, which were joined by only a handful of countries in voting against the move to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the United Nations to "non-member state" from "entity," like the Vatican.

India was among the 138 nations in the 193-member body that voted in favour while nine countries opposed the resolution that sought upgrading the status of Palestinian Authority from 'entity' to 'non-member observer state.

Forty-one countries abstained from the voting which took place yesterday.

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 symbolic vote signified the huge international backing for Palestine and came as a stinging defeat for Israel and the US.

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.

In his address to the General Assembly before the vote, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the vote will "issue a birth certificate of the reality of the state of Palestine".

"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 institutionalises the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement," Abbas said.

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