Palestine’s struggle to gain international spotlight and develop from a “non-member observer entity” into a “non-member observer state” was settled in a 138-193 (nine oppose; 41 abstained) vote on November 29, 2012 at the United Nations General Assembly. This resolution was supported by many of the member states in the UN with the exception of the United States and Israel. Initial historic conflict over the territories of the West Bank, Gaza strip and east Jerusalem drew a gap in interests and a fight for waterways between Palestine and the state of Israel. These territories were occupied by the Israeli government in the 1967 Mideast War and have caused tension since.
The fight for land makes this a controversial issue. The land which once belonged to Palestine is now occupied by the Israeli state who feels that their close, religious connection to the land, holds their sacred right of occupancy. Prime Minister Netanyahu stood by this belief during the assembly: “No decision by the U.N. can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel…”
Though the vote does not give Palestine membership to the United Nations, which would grant them voting rights in General Assembly, they have gained access to the International Criminal Court and other U.N agencies. Access to the ICC can potentially pave the way for Palestine to challenge Israel against war crimes and settlement building on “war-won” land.
“Israel is prepared to live in peace with the Palestinian state,…” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the assembly Thursday, “…but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.”
Even with the U.N decision, both sides seem to be on a different page. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas states, “On the contrary, our people have witnessed, and continue to witness, an unprecedented intensification of military assaults, the blockade, settlement activities and ethnic cleansing, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, and mass arrests, attacks by settlers and other practices by which this Israeli occupation is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement.”
Israel and its allies took a loss with the United Nation’s decision.
What could this decision mean for Israel’s allies like the the United States and a handful of small European countries? On the contrary, what does it mean for Palestine’s allies such as France, Spain, and the majority of the United Nations?
Didier Barjon is a Junior studying Law and Society at Philadelphia University. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the position of UNA-GP.