"A defeat for Israel? I see it differently. The Arabs have an automatic majority at the UN. Only 87 of the 193 members of the UN are countries defined as democracies. In other words, more than 100 members of the UN are countries living under repressive regimes. The Palestinian Authority's reliance on a majority like that cannot be a defeat for Israel," said Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor following the vote in the General Assembly granting the Palestinian Authority recognition as a non-member observer state. 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution, with only nine against: the US, Canada, Panama, the Czech Republic, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Guatemala. 41 countries abstained.
The immediate practical effect of the vote itself is not great, as the Palestinian Authority must still apply separately for membership of UN organizations.
The vote took place on November 29, 65 years to the day after the UN General Assembly approved the plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state after the end of the British mandate. The Palestinian Authority rebuffed efforts by the US and European countries to cancel or postpone the vote.
The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad, in a first official Palestinian reaction to the vote, hinted at reservations about the move, particularly about the highly aggressive speech by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. “The question is, where do we go from here and what does it mean? The sooner the tough rhetoric of this can subside and the more this is viewed as a logical consequence of many years of failure to move the process forward, the better,” Fayyad told "The New York Times". He added that nothing would change without deep US involvement.
Talking to "Globes", Prosor avoided harsh criticism of those countries friendly to Israel that voted in favor of the Palestinian initiative. "I believe that some of the countries that supported the move genuinely thought that they were bolstering the standing of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Authority," the ambassador said, "But in fact the vote is a reward for terrorism, a reward for those who breach a signed agreement, and a reward for those who wish to evade negotiations.
"I sat in the assembly and thought: What is the message that Abba brought to this occasion? The speech he made was full of hatred and bile and shot through with distortions and untruths," Prosor added, "There was not a single word in the speech about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state; not a single word about recognizing Israel's security needs; not a single word about direct negotiations."
Prosor added that he nevertheless hoped that the Palestinians would understand that the only way to a state of their own was via direct negotiations, because the attempt to impose a solution would lead nowhere. Asked whether he id not fear that recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a non-meber observer state would mean Israel being dragged before the International Court at the Hague, Prosor said that any attempt to use that institution to extract concessions from Israel would not succeed. In a veiled threat, Prosor said, "Everything has two sides," meaning that recognition of the Palestinian Authority exposed it to prosecution at the Hague as well.
In his speech before the UN General Assembly, Abbas reiterated the narrative of oppression of the Palestinians, referring to the "nakhba", "the disaster" of 1948, when the State of Israel was founded, to ethnic cleansing, and colonialism, although he did say he had not come to oppose Israel's existence. "Throughout its long struggle, the Palestinian people tried to show harmony and patience, and to act in accordance with international law," Abbas said, "There is an occupation that must end, and there is a people that must be liberated. We will not agree to less than independence for the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and for all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, a Palestine that will live alongside Israel, and we will not agree to less than solution of the refugee problem in accordance with the Security Council resolution."
In his response, Prosor said, "The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples. Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the "Jews into the sea". The truth is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was ruled by Jordan, and Gaza was ruled by Egypt. The Arab states did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. Instead they sought Israel’s destruction, and were joined by newly formed Palestinian terrorist organizations. The truth is that at Camp David in 2000, and again at Annapolis in 2008, Israeli leaders made far-reaching offers for peace. Those offers were met by rejection, evasion, and even terrorism." .”
Addressing himself directly to Abbas, Prosor said,“Three months ago, Israel’s prime minister stood in this very hall and extended his hand in peace to President Abbas. He reiterated that his goal was to create a solution of two states for two peoples, where a demilitarized Palestinian state will recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That’s right. Two states for two peoples. In fact, President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase ‘two states for two peoples’ this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase ‘two states for two peoples’ because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.”
"The New York Times" quotes Salah al-Bardaweel, a spokesman for Hamas in Gaza, as saying, “There are controversial issues in the points that Abbas raised, and Hamas has the right to preserve its position over them. We do not recognize Israel, nor the partition of Palestine, and Israel has no right in Palestine. Getting our membership in the UN bodies is our natural right, but without giving up any inch of Palestine’s soil."
In Israel, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement on the Palestinian move in the General Assembly, " This is a meaningless decision that will not change anything on the ground. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that there will be no establishment of a Palestinian state without a settlement that ensures the security of Israel's citizens. He will not allow a base for Iranian terrorism to be established in Judea and Samaria, in addition to those that have [already] been established in Gaza and Lebanon. The way to peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah is in direct negotiations, without preconditions, and not in one-sided UN decisions. By going to the UN, the Palestinians have violated the agreements with Israel and Israel will act accordingly."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 30, 2012
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012