World weighs in on UN Palestine vote
World headlines showed a mix of emotions – but a lot of common ground on how much impact this may have on prospects for peace.
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Latin America Editor
Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.
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United Nations member countries voted overwhelmingly to change the Palestinian status from an observer to a non-member observer state yesterday, but how this will play out in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations, and prospects for peace, is still an open question.
Held on the 65th anniversary of the “birth” of Israel – when the UN voted to partition the British mandate of Palestine into one Jewish state and one Arab state – there is no question that yesterday’s vote was symbolic for Palestinians and their supporters, according to The New York Times. The vote passed 138 to 9, with 41 states abstaining.
"The General Assembly is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in his speech before the vote.
The new UN status doesn’t change borders, or give Palestinians control of “their borders, airspace or trade”; they still have “separate and competing governments in Gaza and the West Bank, and they have no unified army or police,” according to CBS News.
But it does grant Palestinian officials greater tools to “challenge Israel in international legal forums for its occupation activities in the West Bank, including settlement-building, and it helped bolster the Palestinian Authority, weakened after eight days of battle between its rival Hamas and Israel,” reports The New York Times.
In the lead-up to the vote, world headlines showed the mix of emotion surrounding the UN vote. In the Palestinian territories, hope was evident. The Arabic daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida had a map on its front page showing how UN member countries voted for the Palestinian bid for full membership to UNESCO in 2011, and a headline that read “Palestine the state …Tonight.”
In the United States, one of the most outspoken against the bid, the tone was different. Headlines ranged from "Israel: UN can't break 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and land of Israel" to "New York Pols: U.N. Vote On Palestine A 'Distraction' And 'Mistake'." The Washington Post's headline read: "Israel braces for Palestinian victory in UN status vote", and The Christian Science Monitor asked, "Who backs Palestine UN bid? Ehud Olmert, among others."