Were it not for the razor wire, giant concrete blocks, steel gates, watchtower and standard-issue surly teenage soldier, it would be impossible to tell at what point the barren uplands of Israel’s eastern Negev give way to the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank.
The military checkpoint of Shani vaguely marks the formal demarcation between Israel and occupied Palestinian territory, but in practical terms the distinction is meaningless. On either side of the Green Line, Israel is in charge.
In recent weeks it has been intensifying a campaign to evict Palestinian farming communities summarily from their ancestral lands to replace them with Jewish newcomers.
Israeli human rights lawyers, tired of the international community’s formulaic criticisms, say it is time to be more forthright. They call these “ethnic cleansing” zones — intended to drive off Palestinians irrespective of the provisions of international law and whether or not the Palestinians in question hold Israeli citizenship.
In the occupied South Hebron Hills, a dozen traditional communities — long ago denied by Israel the right to enjoy modern amenities such as electricity and running water — are struggling to remain in the cave-homes that sheltered them for centuries.
Israel has reclassified much of their land as a military firing range and demands that they leave for their own safety. An appeal to the Israeli courts, the latest instalment in a 14-year saga to avoid eviction, is due in the next few days.
Israel’s concern for the villagers’ welfare might sound more convincing were it not encouraging Jews to live close by in illegal settlements.
Palestinians in other parts of the occupied territories coveted by Israel — such as villages next to Jerusalem and those in the fertile Jordan Valley, the territorial backbone of any future Palestinian state — are being squeezed too. Firing ranges, closed military zones and national parks are the pretexts for Israel to appropriate the farmland these rural communities need to survive.
As a result, Palestinian life is withering in the nearly two-thirds of the West Bank Israel was temporarily entrusted with — the so-called Area C — under the Oslo Accords. Endlessly harassed Palestinians have sought sanctuary in West Bank cities under Palestinian Authority control. Today the remnants in Area C, a population of about 100,000, are outnumbered three to one by Jewish settlers.
A discomfited European Union, normally mealy-mouthed on Israel’s occupation, has started to describe this as “forced transfer.” The term may sound ominous and reproving, but human rights groups say that, from a legal perspective, the terminology obscures rather than illuminates what is taking place.
“Forced transfer,” observes Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal centre for Israel’s minority of 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, usually describes uncoordinated and unofficial incidents of population displacement, often as an outcome of war.
Bishara and others argue that Israel is carrying out a systematic and intentional policy to drive Palestinians off their land to replace them with Jewish communities. This, they say, should be identified as “ethnic cleansing,” a term first given legal and moral weight in the Balkans conflict in the early 1990s.
As evidence, the lawyers point to recent developments inside Israel. The treatment of tens of thousands of Bedouin in the Negev, all of them Israeli citizens, is virtually identical to that of Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills.
The Bedouin too have faced a prolonged campaign to push them off their ancestral lands and into a series of “townships,” forcibly urbanizing them in the country’s most deprived communities. In the disconcerting language of Israeli bureaucracy, the Bedouin need to be “concentrated.”
Israel has increased the pressure — as in the West Bank — by denying these Bedouin all public services, and demolishing any concrete homes they build. As with Palestinians under occupation, the Bedouin have found their communities reclassified as firing ranges, military zones or national forests.
The village of al-Araqib, near Beersheva, for example, has been demolished more than 50 times in recent years as Israel plants on its land — with a suitably sinister irony — the Ambassadors’ Forest, commemorating the help provided to Israel by the international community’s diplomatic corps.
Waiting in the wings are developers ready to build on the Bedouin’s land 10 new towns for Jews only. The rest of the territory is being eaten up by Jewish ranches, given swathes of land to create vineyards, offer camel rides and, in one case, provide a pet cemetery.
But, as in the West Bank, the Bedouin are refusing to budge, and pressing their historic land claims in the Israeli courts. Rather than wait for a verdict it may not like, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is rewriting the Bedouin’s citizenship rights.
The Prawer plan, which passed its first reading in parliament last month, will force 40,000 Bedouin off their land — the largest expulsions inside Israel for decades. Unlike Jewish citizens, they will have no say over where they live; they will be forcibly assigned to a township.
For the first time, Israeli citizens — the Bedouin — are to be deprived of any recourse to the courts as they are harried from their homes. Instead Israel will resort to administrative procedures more familiar from the occupied territories.
The policy is clear: Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are to be treated like sheep, fenced into ever-smaller areas, while Jews will have unrestrained access to a Greater Israel envisioned by Mr Netanyahu.
The international community has long criticized Israel for the “discrimination” its Palestinian citizens face and for the “oppression” of Palestinians under occupation. This terminology needs overhauling too, say the human rights lawyers.
A system that treats one ethnic group as less human than another already has a legal name: it is called apartheid.
The thinking behind this decision is there are simply more Jews in the U.S. than in Israel. The dramatic announcement is believed intended to force direct face-to-face talks, whose end game is the creation of a Palestinian state (in this universe).
Unnamed Palestinian sources (though JeWikiLeaks released the names of their spouses) confirmed that a Palestinian state would fully welcome the Jewish State, providing it remained within the continental United States.
The proposal comes with additional preconditions, however. The Palestinian Authority demand an immediate freeze on all Jewish settlements in Lakewood NJ, South East Florida and all of Hollywood. Mel Gibson will raise a glass or 2 (hundred) on this last one.
”It’s all about compromise” Erakt said with a straight face. “That’s what Arabs do”, although he couldn’t come up with a single historical example. “We also insist on racially profiling anyone who’s remotely funny and Jewish (i.e. infidels). And we ask that everyone kindly turn a blind eye to honor killings.”
Israel responded by offering to build entire villages on Arab land anywhere outside of Israel, including London.
Proposal’s Pros: The numbers make sense.
There are more Jews who live in the U.S. than Israel (6.5 vs. 5.77 million). If the majority of Jews live in the Diaspora, then that is where you put their country.
To bend a phrase, if the Jews won’t go to Israel, then Israel will go to the Jews. Or as Mike Brady said in The Brady Bunch Movie: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
If achieved, the demographic implications resulting from this land-transfer would be staggering and could come back to bite the United Arab Emirates in their barrels.
Iranian President and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stands the most to lose. Ahmadinejad would wake up to a new existential threat facing his country when seemingly over-night, the “Little Satan” had blossomed into a full “Uber Satan”, transforming “The Zionist Enemy” into the world’s #1 military super power.
Proposal’s Cons: The numbers don’t make sense.
While 45% of the world’s Jews live in America, the US Jewish population as a percent of the entire US is negligible. What’s the point of having a Zionist country where the Zionists make up less than 2% of the population? The odds are better to stay in Israel where support seldom drops bellow double digits.
Should we buy into this pledge?
By all means, yes we should. And why not? This is as ridiculous as every other Palestinian proposal sold as a “willingness to promote peace”. Let Israel take its’ usual wait-and-see approach i.e. wait and see how long it takes for the Palestinians to abrogate their commitments.
Previous guarantees to include maps of Israeli cities with their corresponding Hebrew names in school textbooks or removing Palestinian children’s programming that glorify martyrdom come to mind. These promises were dedicated with as much sincerity as this current, vacuous proposal.
Palestine: Profiting from Occupation
Israel’s occupation of Palestine is propped up with the help of international corporations and financial institutions. This project profiles international and UK-based companies complicit in the occupation and analyses the role of international trade projects in institutionalising the Israeli apartheid regime.
1. Israeli companies: Since the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights in 1967, Israeli companies, hand in hand with the Israeli state, have exploited the Palestinian economy and workforce. Agricultural companies have set up farms on land expropriated from Palestinian communities and have crippled Palestinian agriculture, already decimated by the military occupation and closures, by flooding Palestinian markets with cheap Israeli goods. These companies have taken advantage of the EU-Israel Trade Agreement to export large quantities of their produce to the European market.
2. International Corporations: Many international companies have taken the opportunity to profit from the suffering of the people of Palestine. Arms companies sell weapons to Israel in full knowledge of Israel’s ongoing war crimes; construction companies accept contracts for the building of illegal settlements; and multinationals open branches on illegal settlements. Some settlement produce is also marketed as ‘organic’ on European supermarket shelves.
3. States: Several foreign governments plan to set up new industrial areas inside the West Bank on territories under Israeli military occupation. In the occupied Jordan Valley, the Japanese government plans to facilitate the setting up of an industrial area where Israeli and international companies will take advantage of the desperate Palestinian workforce. The construction of this industrial area will entail further entrenchment of the Israeli apartheid system through the development of settler roads linking the zone to 1948 Israel. The German, British and French governments have expressed interest in setting up similar industrial areas elsewhere in the West Bank. These zones will exploit Palestinian workers, whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the Israeli military occupation and who often have no choice but to work for settler companies for low wages and with no protection or right to unionise.
There is an established and growing movement in solidarity with Palestine. Since 2004, the focus of this movement has been a Palestinian call for ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions‘ (BDS). The call was made by hundreds of Palestinian civil society organisations and all major Palestinian trade unions. Campaigners around the world have engaged in diverse forms of solidarity action in line with this call. Corporate Watch’s research intends to strengthen and provide a resource for the growing BDS movement and the wider international solidarity movement.
Obama clearly defined lines appear to offer little hope to Palestine
President Obama more closely aligned himself with the Israeli government’s terms for resuming peace talks with the Palestinians Thursday as he continued his visit to the region. Speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Obama urged Palestinians to drop their longstanding demand for Israel to halt settlement construction on Palestinian land as a precondition for talks.
President Obama: “What I shared with President Abbas, and I will share with the Palestinian people, is that if the expectation is, is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there’s no point for negotiations. So I think it’s important for us to work through this process, even if there are irritants on both sides.”
Obama had previously backed the Palestinian demand for a settlement freeze at the start of his first term. On Thursday, Obama said the Israeli settlements are not “constructive” or “appropriate,” but he stopped short of calling them illegal, a point stressed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
President Mahmoud Abbas: “Regarding the issue of settlements, it is not only our perception that settlements are illegal, but it is a global perspective. Everybody considers settlements not only a hurdle, but even more than a hurdle, towards the two-state solution.”
GAZA – They have almost all left: Bachar for Sweden, May for Spain, Imad for Tunisia, Mohamed for Qatar, Assad for Egypt, Adham for Belgium. Moustapha, Asmaa’s brother also left for Belgium, while Mohamed Matar, aka Abou Yazan, the leader of the short-lived March 15 Movement, that tried to bring the Arab Spring to Gaza, has gone to Germany.
Too much repression from Hamas, too much disappointment from waiting for an intra-Palestinian reconciliation that never came. Too much suffering, too many wars and hardships, but most of all – the Israeli blockade.
A hope that has died and a future that is dead-ended, especially for young graduates. So many young people have left, but Asmaa stayed — determined, courageous, as combative as ever.
If there should only be one person left, it should be her. “I could have gone too, but I love Gaza, and Europe bores me. Over there, I am nothing, and there is nothing to change. I need challenges, fights to fight and causes to defend.”
Asmaa leaves our meeting like she arrived, by foot, her hair uncovered, wearing a jean and not caring one bit about what others think. While she was telling me her story, she chain-smoked and pointed to the beach below the hotel.
This is where everything happened, during the summer of 2009. She was walking on the beach with a group of young men and women. The morality police arrived, took the boys to jail. Asmaa was released, but her passport was confiscated.
In 2007, shortly after the Palestinian civil war, Asmaa, a journalist since 2001, was in South Korea for a journalism course. During her stay, she wrote an article in the form of an open letter to her uncle, a senior military leader for the Hamas. The article, entitled “Dear Uncle, Is This The Homeland We Want?” criticized the movement’s extremist Islamist views. In response, her uncle threatened to kill her.
In Oct. 2009 “before the Arab Spring,” she says, she founded the Iss Ha (Wake Up) movement with around 20 friends. “Our objective was to fight against the Hamas’ Islamization of the Gaza strip.”
The next year, the group of young activists walked the streets of Gaza carrying a huge ballot box demanding Palestinian elections – which are still eagerly awaited.
The number of arrests increased, and so did harassment. In Jan. 2010, Asmaa was arrested with others. “We were guilty of demonstrating our support to the revolution against Mubarak!” She spent eight hours in jail, humiliated, beaten by policewomen who accused her of “not being Muslim.”
In Nov. 2010, the police closed the Gaza offices of the Sharek Youth Forum, a UN-funded NGO that organizes camps and after-school programs for Palestinian children and youths. Eighteen activists were arrested and severely beaten. From then on, protests and arrests became a regular thing. In March 2011, Asma is thrown in prison and violently beaten by police officers.
Too many threats
Asmaa El-Ghoul is a 30-year-old free-lance journalist and writer. She writes for the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam but mostly, she blogs relentlessly, with absolutely no taboo. She writes about forced islamization, the “honor crimes”, corruption, human rights violations and about woman rights. “If you want to be able to write about these subjects honestly, you have to be in the streets too,” she says.
The arrests and punishments keep coming. Death threats, by phone, by mail and on her blog continue to increase. “We will kill you, we will break your bones, burn you with your son.”
But the awards keep coming too. Last October she was given honored with a “Courage in Journalism” award by the International Women’s Media Foundation.
Before that one she received a similar prize given by the Dubai foundation and an award by the Anna Lindh Foundation for her “commitment to freedom of expression and her courage in facing repression.”
Asmaa El-Ghoul uses this international recognition to find fortitude, to give her strength in her new fights. The latest of these fights is emblematic of the rampant islamization of Gaza.
In Jan. 2013, the board of the Al-Aqsa University in the Gaza strip decided that social and family pressure to insure that all women dress “properly” wasn’t enough. The board voted to impose a dress code on female students – saying that from the next semester it would be mandatory for them to wear “clothes that respect the customs and traditions of the Palestinian society.” These clothes include a headscarf (hijab), and a loose-fitting ankle-length robe (jilbab).
Asmaa does not feel concerned by this – she got rid of her headscarf in 2006. However, she feels responsible for the girls of Gaza who refuse to wear the Islamic uniform.
She has stopped blogging for a while now. She received too many threats. “If after my son, they start threatening my six-months old daughter, I will go nuts.”
She also now tries to be less provocative – has stopped smoking on the beach or in the street. “Sometimes I feel like I am alone in the middle of a storm,” she says.
She is writing a book on Gaza and continues to write articles, mostly for Al-Monitor. Talking about freedom, it’s like an illness for her, she says. “An illness I’ll have all my life, but an illness I love.”
Read the article in the original language.
Photo by – Asma Al Ghoul
All rights reserved ©Worldcrunch – in partnership with LE MONDE
My Neighbourhood (directed by Julia Bacha and Rebekah Wingert-Jabi) tells the story of Mohammed El Kurd, a Palestinian teenager growing up in the heart of East Jerusalem. When Mohammed’s family is forced to give up a part of their home to Israeli settlers, local residents begin peaceful protests, and in a surprising turn, are quickly joined by scores of Israeli supporters. Mohammed comes of age in the face of unrelenting tension with his neighbours and unexpected co-operation with Israeli allies in his backyard. My Neighbourhood is latest short film by Just Vision, an organisation that uses film and media to increase the power and legitimacy of Palestinians and Israelis working to end the occupation and resolve the conflict nonviolently.
For video please click on the link below
Whenever I campaign for Palestinian justice as a trade unionist I always get a small number of members asking why. Some people take the view that when we have limited resources and time at our disposal trade union reps should simply focus on the home front. Furthermore there are those members who for whatever reason take sides and side with Israel.
The struggle of the oppressed is our struggle. That struggle against capitalism takes many forms and cannot simply be straightjacketed to local issues. We live in a shrinking world thanks to modern communications and globalisation. In the past imperialism was obvious as the sun never set on the British but nowadays imperialism isn’t recognised by everyone. The USA impacts on the world like few other countries ever have and its imperialism lives strong.
Israel was born out of British imperialism and is maintained by American imperialism, including massive aid by way of arms. The suffering of the people of Palestine originates from the same system of economics and government and international relations that trade unionists are fighting every day.
The Palestinian people have suffered much as the Nakba that started on the day Israel was created continues to the present. Their suffering can be seen via the apartheid system that has developed in the boundaries of the country the ruling class calls Israel and it can be seen starkly in the Gaza Strip, blighted by siege conditions for years and now bombardment once again.
If we dare to fight oppression when we see it caused by capitalism then we must also dare to fight it when we see it caused by imperialism and backed up economically and militarily by nations advancing a neo-liberal agenda. For these reasons the struggle for justice in Palestine is our struggle. Fighting austerity and fighting injustice at home whilst standing in solidarity for the rights of those living in Gaza is not contradictory, it fits hand in glove.
The fight continues and our hearts go out to all the people suffering at the hands of Israeli aggression.
“Hello Everybody, I would like to thank the Irish congress of Trade Unions and all the other organisations for inviting me to speak today and for organising this rally and I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming along today. We heard that the ceasefire has been declared but we know that this is not the end of the siege of Gaza or the occupation of the people of Palestine. We witnessed yet again on our television sets this week inhumanity that we cannot believe is allowed to exist. It was called ‘self-defence’. But how can you call self-defence the massacre of women and children in Gaza and the destruction of their infrastructure, this is a war, these are crimes against humanity, we declare that Netanyahu is a war criminal and we can do something about this.
We can ensure that when any of the Israeli leaderships such as, Perez, Netanyahu and their military war executive, try to leave their country and come to any civilized country, we as the people will issue our own indictments of war crimes. We as the people have to stand up for human rights, for international law, for democracy, for a future for our world, because if we don’t do this, our world will plunge into war and to destruction and to barbarity and we will not have such a thing as a civil or political or religious liberty or right. We elect politicians to serve the people, to stand up for our right to food, education, safety and security.
Obama’s dismal failure
Our politicians are failing us dismally; we have no real political leadership with any moral courage in our world today. We supported Obama when he came in and said ‘there is a new way’. President Obama stood in Burma this week and he said: ‘ There is no excuse for violence against innocent people’, what was his message about the violence against the people of Gaza? What has his message been about the violence, occupation,destruction, persecution, apartheid regime against the Palestinian people for the last 60 years? His message was (and the minutes are available from the White house two weeks ago) ‘ We will uphold Israel’s right to self-defence and anybody who questions that, we will not accept’.
What kind of political leadership is that to our people in the world today? The biggest block to real change is not Israel but the United States of America continually vetoing and supporting the murder of children in Gaza and war against civilians.
What Israel is about
We have to know what Israel is about. Jimmy Carter gave an interview last week, and in this interview Jimmy Carter said the policy of the Israeli government is to confiscate Palestinian land. The policy of the Israeli government is to take more and more Palestinian land, they want a greater Israel and not only do they want a greater Israel, they want the 20% of the Arab people who live within Israel proper to acknowledge Israel as a ‘Jewish state’. They want a Jewish state for a Jewish people. When do they think we’re living? Do they think we’re living in the dark ages? Every person has a right to their statehood. Every person has a right to their freedom, a right to dignity. But it’s about the land stupid, it’s about the land as Bill Clinton would say, it’s about the territory stupid. Let’s wake up, this is not about Hamas, this is not about the fact that Israel has no partner for peace. I sat with Yasser Arafat in his little compound before he was killed and he cried out for peace. I sat in Gaza with Hamas in 2008 and they cried out for peace. What was Israel’s answer? Israel’s answer was war against them, and not only dropping one or two bombs but the policy of the Israeli government, and look it up, is that when they go to war, they do the utmost damage. They don’t kill one or two, they destroy a people.
There’s a new concept available now, it’s called ‘Sociocide’, you know our Philosophers and our Professors, too many of them who sit behind university walls, if it’s not going out to new links with other universities so they can get more money for military experiments. Sociocide means another country destroys a people’s whole ability to live – and this is what’s happening in Gaza. The Gazan people: their identities are being destroyed as Palestinians, their country is being destroyed as Palestine, their children are being killed, their spirit is being dampened, they’re being demonised by the Israelis as if they were nothing. Who are the Palestinians? The Israelis created another lie in 1948 when they said they went to ‘a land without people’, they went to a land that was full of the very best of people, good people, kind people, people who opened their hearts to them coming in, in 1948, people who gave them homes and supported them and what did the Israelis do? What did the Zionists do? In 1948, they cleared over 400 Palestinian villages, putting the people out of their homes. The Palestinians had to flee their land, this was ‘The Nakba’ of the Palestinian people. It was genocide as important as the genocide of the Holocaust. I’ve been to Auschwitz, I am not an Anti-Semite. I’ve been to Auschwitz, I’ve seen the suffering and in Auschwitz I swore the next time I saw people suffering like this I would not remain silent and we must not remain silent.
We must stand up against Israeli aggression
It is a myth that The Nakba and the ethnic cleansing that went on in 1948 by the Israeli’s is over. It’s happening today as we stand. The Israelis are clearing villages in the Negev desert so they can take over the very best of Palestinian land. We must up stand up against this. This is not acceptable and we’re not powerless. We’re not powerless, the people of Northern Ireland, no they’re not powerless because we know what it’s like for bombings and shootings and killings and fear and division. And we stood up and we said this is not acceptable. So the people of Israel and Palestine together can stop this. They have to do it, because the world leaders are not going to do it. The people have to do it and do it together, because Israeli’s too are suffering.
Boycott, Divest, Sanction
We must support the Israeli Peace Activists. They are on a hard road but their message is right. Their message is non-violence, dialogue and solving this problem. It’s not who will start this problem; it’s who will end it. Boycott all Israeli goods. Boycott Israel and the companies that trade with them. Divest from Israel and the countries that support Israel. We must applaud the Co-op, because the Co-op, one of the first retailers has come out with a very strong Boycott campaign and we send out from this platform our thanks to the Co-op and we implore more and more to follow their example. But, you know, also sanctions, sanctions against the arms that are flowing into Israel. We must say to America, you are breaking your own laws because every day you have 8 million dollars going to support the militarism of Israel. They are being used illegally by Israel and America has to stop this. Europe too has a lot of work, Europe funds Israel, Israel gets more money out of the European kitty – and that’s our money – to do military research so it can remain a nuclear weapons country with the fourth biggest army in the world.
We’re paying for that, so they use these to destroy a country and destroy the buildings that our tax money built in Gaza. This is not acceptable.
Lies from the Media
I thank you all for coming. We are powerful but the most important thing, our greatest enemy is cowardice, our greatest enemy are those who refuse to speak the truth because of their own fear. Our greatest enemies are people like the BBC and the media who tell lies about what is happening . Where are the media reporting exactly what is happening? We demand, we’re paying tax, we’re paying our license and we want the truth. Thank you very much for all you’re doing. There’s great hope because I have met with the Israeli activists and I have met with the Palestinian people and witnessed their message of non-violence, Palestine has a great non-violence movement, tragically a lot of them are in Israeli prisons. So we together can solve this and help our Palestinian people. We did it in Northern Ireland and we are a model. People said it couldn’t be done, we said it will not be done through militarism, arm struggle and violence. It will be done with truth and courage and love and forgiveness and we can do it. That’s our message to the Israeli and Palestinian people. You can do it another way.’
The move has been seen as defying a UN vote that implicitly recognised Palestinian statehood in the region.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s conservative government had authorised the construction of 3,000 housing units and ordered “prelimiliary zoning and planning work for thousands” more.
The official would not elaborate. But Israeli media said the government sought to hammer home its rejection of yesterday’s upgrade, by the UN General Assembly, of the Palestinians to “non-member observer state” from “entity”.
Israel and the United States had opposed the resolution, which strenghtened the Palestinians’ claim on all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, saying territorial sovereignty should be addressed in direct peace talks with the Jewish state.
Those negotiations have been stalled for two years, however, given Palestinian anger at continued Israeli settlement.
The Israelis insist they would keep West Bank settlement blocs under any final accord as well as all of Jerusalem as their capital.
That status for the holy city has never been accepted abroad, where most powers consider the settlements illegal for taking in land captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the world body to issue what he said was its long overdue “birth certificate”.
Meanwhile, the Vatican has hailed the United Nations’ implicit recognition of a Palestinian state and called for an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem.
Palestine now has the same status as the Vatican.
A statement said: “The Holy See welcomes with favour the decision of the General Assembly by which Palestine has become a Non-member Observer State of the United Nations,”
It also said it was a “propitious occasion” to recall a “common position” on Jerusalem expressed by the Vatican and the Palestine Liberation Organisation when the two sides signed a basic agreement on their bilateral relations in 2000.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to recognize a Palestinian state, a long-sought victory for the Palestinians but an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States.
The resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status to a nonmember observer state at the United Nations was approved by a more than two-thirds majority of the 193-member world body — a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions.
Real independence, however, remains an elusive dream until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis, who warned that the General Assembly action will only delay a lasting solution. Israel still controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and access to Gaza, and it accused the Palestinians of bypassing negotiations with the campaign to upgrade their U.N. status.
The United States immediately criticized the historic vote. “Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path peace,” U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the General Assembly shortly before the vote “defamatory and venomous,” saying it was “full of mendacious propaganda” against Israel.
Abbas had told the General Assembly that it was “being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.” Abbas said the vote is the last chance to save the two-state solution.
After the vote, Netanyahu said the UN move violated past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and that Israel would act accordingly, without elaborating what steps it might take.