U.N. votes to upgrade Palestine's status
In a vote at the United Nations in New York on Thursday, the body granted Palestine the title of "non-member observer state". Palestinians celebrated the outcome, while the United States and Israel denounced it.
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The much-anticipated vote came after Abbas denounced Israel for its "aggressive policies and the perpetration of war crimes" from the U.N. podium, remarks that elicited a furious response from the Jewish state.Skip to next paragraph
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"Sixty-five years ago on this day, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, which partitioned the land of historic Palestine into two states and became the birth certificate for Israel," Abbas told the assembly after receiving a standing ovation.
"The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded quickly, condemning Abbas' critique of Israel as "hostile and poisonous," and full of "false propaganda."
"These are not the words of a man who wants peace," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. He reiterated Israeli calls for direct talks with the Palestinians, dismissing Thursday's resolution as "meaningless."
Granting Palestinians the title of "non-member observer state" falls short of full U.N. membership - something the Palestinians failed to achieve last year. But it would allow them access to the ICC and other international bodies, should they choose to join them.
Abbas did not mention the ICC in his speech. But Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told reporters after the vote that if Israel continued to build illegal settlements, the Palestinians might pursue the ICC route.
"As long as the Israelis are not committing atrocities, are not building settlements, are not violating international law, then we don't see any reason to go anywhere," he said.
"If the Israelis continue with such policy - aggression, settlements, assassinations, attacks, confiscations, building walls - violating international law, then we have no other remedy but really to knock those to other places," Maliki said.
In Washington, a group of four Republican and Democratic senators announced legislation that would close the Palestinian office in Washington unless the Palestinians enter "meaningful negotiations" with Israel, and eliminate all U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it turns to the ICC.
"I fear the Palestinian Authority will now be able to use the United Nations as a political club against Israel," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the sponsors.
Abbas led the campaign to win support for the resolution, which followed an eight-day conflict this month between Israel and Islamists in the Gaza Strip, who are pledged to Israel's destruction and oppose a negotiated peace.