Members voted 138 to 9 in favor of granting Palestine non-member observer State status at the United Nations. There were 41 abstentions in the 193-member Assembly.
The vote came on the same day that the UN observed the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Established in 1977, the Day marks the date in 1947 when the Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning then-mandated Palestine into two States, one Jewish and one Arab. It also came following a recent fighting between the two sides that left over 160 dead and only ceased following a brokered ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.
“We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a State established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the State that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine,” the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told the Assembly before the vote.
“Your support for our endeavour today,” he said, “will send a promising message – to millions of Palestinians on the land of Palestine, in the refugee camps both in the homeland and the Diaspora, and to the prisoners struggling for freedom in Israel’s prisons – that justice is possible and that there is a reason to be hopeful and that the peoples of the world do not accept the continuation of the occupation.”
Following the vote, there were calls for the urgent resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians leading to a permanent two-state solution.
“Today’s vote underscores the urgency of a resumption of meaningful negotiations,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after the vote was finalized. “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. I urge the parties to renew their commitment to a negotiated peace.”
The Israelis and Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, however, said his delegation could not accept the resolution.
“There’s only one route to Palestinian statehood and that route does not run through this chamber in New York. That route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he added. “There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions,” he added.