Palestine upgrades to status of nonmember observer state in U.N.

The United Nations General Assembly endorsed an upgraded U.N. status for the Palestinian Authority on Nov. 29.

Regardless of disapproval by the U.S. and Israel, 138 delegates supported the measure to elevate Palestine’s status from “nonmember observer entity” to “nonmember observer state.” Nine others opposed the movement, while 41 abstained.

The new status will allow Palestine to make use of U.N. organizations to advance its interests. According to The Los Angeles Times, Israeli officials have expressed concern over the fact that Palestine has been allowed the right to join the International Criminal Court.

According to the U.N. News Centre, the resolution also incorporates the assembly’s hope that the U.N. Security Council will “consider favorably” the Palestinians’ September 2011 proposal for full U.N. membership. The 15-nation Council decides whether or not to recommend admission by the assembly, but said they were “unable to make a unanimous recommendation.”

According to CNN, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the move represents a “last chance to save the two-state solution.”

“We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel,” Abbas said to the assembly. “Rather, we came to affirm the legitimacy of the state that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor said this was a step backwards for the advancement of peace.

“There’s only one route to Palestinian statehood and that route does not run through this chamber in New York,” Prosor said. “That route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions.”

According to The Los Angeles Times, Israelis also said that Abbas’ relations with Hamas-run Gaza displays there is “no viable Palestinian leadership living up to its obligations now.”

In the wake of the recent resurgence of violence between Hamas and Israel, which brought the two back into the international spotlight, the U.N. decision refocused the international community on the need for peace negations.

Direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine ceased in September 2010 as a result of Israel’s refusal to extend its freeze on settlement activity in Palestinian occupied territory.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the U.N. action “unfortunate and counterproductive.”

“We have been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace they both deserve: two states for two peoples, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel,” Clinton said.

Israeli officials warned that if Abbas attempted to charge them in International Criminal Court that Israel would respond accordingly.