1 December 2012
Turkey welcomes a United Nations vote that upgraded Palestine to non-member observer status, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutođlu saying the territory “is now a state.” Despite the “upsetting” decision by the United States to vote against the upgrade, Davutođlu said Turkey hoped the country “would now contribute to the peace process.”
“Israel should question why it wasn’t supported by all those countries … Israel should also contribute to peace. The cruelty committed against the Palestinian people is clear,” Davutođlu said, one day after the Nov. 29 vote.
Some 138 countries in the 193-member assembly voted in favor of Palestine, 41 abstained and five did not participate, while nine – including the U.S., Israel, Canada and a few Pacific island nations – voted against the proposal.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue “birth certificate,” while thousands of flag-waving Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip set off fireworks and danced in the streets in celebration.
Turkey’s main opposition party has also welcomed the U.N. vote, saying the historic move should serve as an opportunity for peace. Turkish Foreign Ministry also praised the vote.
Israel to build 3,000 settler homes
“The U.N. vote is a pleasing and significant development for both the Palestinian people and for those who side with peace and justice. This is a victory for Palestine and a hope for peace. We congratulate our Palestinian brothers,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kýlýçdarođlu said in a Nov. 30 statement. Turkey has always been on the Palestinian people’s side, Kýlýçdarođlu said.
Hamas movement, which had opposed its rival Abbas’s drive for the status change on the grounds that it was unilateral and not the product of consensus, also welcomed the vote as a “victory.”
Iran hailed the U.N. vote as well, with its Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian calling it “a positive and forward step.”
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said the U.N. vote would politically help “unify Palestinian national efforts” as part of the reconciliation process with Abbas’ nationalist Fatah movement. The much-anticipated vote came after Abbas denounced Israel for its “aggressive policies and perpetration of war crimes” from the U.N. podium. “The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate for the reality of the State of Palestine,” he said after the vote.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded quickly, condemning Abbas’ critique of Israel as “hostile and poisonous” and full of “false propaganda.” Meanwhile, an Israeli official announced that it would build 3,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Joining the U.S. and Israel in voting “no” on Nov. 30 were Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama. Canada ordered back its heads of missions in Israel and Ramallah as well as its envoys to the U.N. and Geneva, saying in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed but not surprised” by the vote.
At least 17 European nations voted in favor of the Palestinian resolution, including Austria, France, Italy, Norway and Spain. Britain, Germany and others chose to abstain.
With its newly enhanced status, the Palestinians can now gain access to U.N. agencies and international bodies, most significantly the International Criminal Court, which could become a springboard from which to pursue Israel for alleged war crimes or its ongoing settlement-building on war-won land.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said after the vote that if Israel continued to build illegal settlements, the Palestinians might pursue the ICC route.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.