By Andrew Schopp
The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday in New York 138-9 on a resolution elevating Palestine from UN observer to non-member observer status.
Prior to the vote, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the Assembly to vote in favour of the resolution.
“The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza strip has confirmed once again the urgent and pressing need to end the Israeli occupation and for our people to gain their freedom and independence,” said Abbas.
“This aggression also confirms the Israeli government’s adherence to the policy of occupation, brute force, and war, which in turn obliges the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people and to it’s peace. That is why we are here today,” he said.
Following Abbas’ speech, permanent representative of Israel to the UN, Ron Prosor, addressed the assembly reaffirming the need for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
“The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through the UN resolutions that completely ignore Israels vital security and national interests,” said Prosor.
“Because this resolution is so one-sided, it does not advance peace, it pursues and pushes it backwards. No decision by the UN can break the 4000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel,” he said.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, voted against the resolution.
“Canada opposes this resolution in the strongest terms because it undermines the core foundations of a decades-long commitment by the international community and the parties themselves to a two-state solution, arrived at through direct negotiations,” Baird said in a speech to the Assembly, prior to the vote.
The resolution has been rejected by Canada, the United States and several European nations.
The resolution seeks Palestinian statehood and UN recognition, without direct peace negotiations with Israel.
“Any two-state solution must be negotiated and mutually agreed upon by both sides,” said Baird.
Opponents consider the resolution to be “counterproductive for both peace-building and eventual Palestinian statehood,” according to a statement on the Centre of Israel and Jewish Affairs in Toronto website.
“Israel has repeatedly stated that it is prepared to negotiate without precondition for the express purpose of creating an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel,” said the CIJA statement.
According to the Toronto Sun, the draft resolution put forth by the Palestinians would re-launch the peace process immediately following the UN vote.
“I am not happy. I condemn it that Canada votes against the UN’s bid,” said Hammam Farah, a native of Gaza, who works with the Toronto-based Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid.
“Palestinians have a right to self-determination. Israel should be pressured to end this system of discrimination,” Farah told Humber News.
“What we’re interested in is Palestinians having their rights restored and the biggest obstacle to that is the Israeli system of apartheid, discrimination and separation where one people have rights and privilege and the others do not. They live under the Israeli government,” he said.