Posts tagged vote
Another step closer
Palestine won a first diplomatic victory in its quest for statehood on Wednesday when the UNESCO executive committee backed its bid to become a member of the cultural body with the rights of a state.
Palestine’s Arab allies braved intense US and French diplomatic pressure to bring the motion before the committee’s member states, which passed it by 40 votes in favour to four against, with 14 abstentions.
The Palestinian bid will now be submitted to the UNESCO general assembly at the end of the month for final approval.
The United States urged all delegates to vote “no” at the general assembly, with its ambassador to the Paris-based body, David Killion, saying that “granting the Palestinians full membership now in a specialised agency such as UNESCO is premature”.
US Republican lawmaker Kay Granger, who chairs the key subcommittee that disburses US monies for diplomatic purposes said in a statement that she “will advocate for all funding to be cut off”, if UNESCO accepted the Palestinians in as a state. Killion said it was “inappropriate” for UNESCO to consider Palestine as a recognised member, while the United Nations Security Council was reviewing a Palestinian request for statehood recognition. This request, which Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 23, will likely be voted on in the coming weeks. source – Yahoo News
The Arab Spring has come to Israel’s doorstep
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Flag-waving Palestinians filled the squares of major West Bank cities on Wednesday to rally behind President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations in the face of U.S. and Israeli objections.
“We are asking for the most simple of rights, a state like other nations,” said Sabrina Hussein, 50, carrying the green, red, black and white Palestinian national flag at a demonstration in Ramallah.
Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank under 1990s interim peace deals, gave school children and civil servants the day off to attend events in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron.
A large mockup of a blue chair, symbolizing a seat at the U.N., and giant Palestinian flags hanging from buildings provided a backdrop for the Ramallah rally, where attendance peaked at several thousand.
Israel cites historical and biblical links to the West Bank, which it calls Judea and Samaria, and to Jerusalem. It claims all of the city as its capital, a status that is not recognized internationally.
Palestinians said more people would have showed up if the authorities had better advertised the events. They also said the political divide between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which governs Gaza, had curtailed the turnout.
The main venues were far removed from Israeli military checkpoints on city limits and the rallies were peaceful.
But away from the gatherings, more than a hundred Palestinian youths threw rocks at Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on the edge of Ramallah. The soldiers responded with teargas and used a “screamer” — a device that emits an ear-splitting high-pitched sound to disperse crowds.
There also were disturbances in the divided West Bank city of Hebron.
Later in the day in New York, U.S. President Barack Obama was due to meet Abbas to urge him to drop plans to ask the U.N. Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state. Washington says statehood should be achieved through peace talks.
Abbas has said he will present U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with a membership application on Friday. The move requires Security Council approval and the United States, one of five veto-wielding permanent members, says it will block it.
At the Ramallah rally, Amina Abdel Jabbar al-Kiswany, a head teacher, said the U.N. bid was a step toward statehood, but not a solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which direct negotiations have failed to resolve.
“It’s a cry of desperation,” Kiswany said.
Reflecting anger with U.S. policy, a Palestinian, his face covered by a scarf, climbed the stage scaffolding and set ablaze an American flag. Earlier, some of the demonstrators had tried to stop the flag burning.
Washington’s pledge to veto the bid for U.N. membership has added to deep Palestinian disappointment in Obama. The Palestinians have long complained of what they see as Washington’s complete support for Israel at their expense.
“America talks about human rights. They support South Sudan. Why don’t they support us?” said Tamer Milham, a 26-year-old computer engineer, referring to the new state of South Sudan which was admitted to the United Nations in July.
U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed a year ago after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month limited moratorium on construction in Jewish settlements in areas Palestinians want for a state.
Netanyahu has called the Palestinian demand of a halt to settlement building an unacceptable precondition and urged Abbas to return to negotiations. Palestinians hope to establish a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The Palestinian Authority has held sway only in the West Bank since Hamas Islamists opposed to his peace efforts with Israel seized Gaza in a brief civil war in 2007.
Hamas has dismissed the U.N. bid as a waste of time and there were no rallies in the Mediterranean enclave, where Palestinians argue that Abbas should be devoting his energies to bridging the internal political divide. source – Yahoo News
Catholic priests throw their support behind Palestinian statehood
Priests in the Holy Land used their sermons on Sunday to give their blessing to the Palestinians’ bid for United Nations membership.
The retired Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, the first Palestinian to hold the post since the Crusades, was to preach in the Roman Catholic church in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
A joint statement by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran priests pledged their “support for the diplomatic efforts being deployed to win international recognition for the State of Palestine… on the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as our capital.”
The priests went further than their bishops, who in a statement this week confined themselves to a call for intensified prayer and diplomatic efforts ahead of the Palestinian membership request, to be sent to the UN Security Council on Friday.
“Palestinians and Israelis should exercise restraint, whatever the outcome of the vote at the United Nations,” the bishops said.
“We call upon decision-makers and people of good will to do their utmost to achieve the long-awaited justice, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu look set for a UN showdown next week, with Abbas planning to push for membership for a Palestinian state and Netanyahu arguing against it. ”Despite the pressures that we face, Palestine goes to the UN on the 23rd of this month to seek admission as a full member,” Abbas told Egyptian television on Wednesday. source – BREITBART
Let’s get ready to rumble!
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will address the UN General Assembly on Friday next week, setting the stage for a potentially dramatic diplomatic showdown with the Palestinians. He will speak on the same day that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, is due to deliver a landmark speech calling on the global body to support Palestinian statehood.
“The General Assembly is not a place where Israel usually receives a fair hearing,” Mr Netanyahu said on Thursday. “But I still decided to tell the truth before anyone who would like to hear it.”
The Israeli government, which opposes the Palestinian UN bid, had originally considered sending Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, to New York. Mr Peres is widely seen as a less divisive figure on the international stage than the prime minister. However, a failure by Mr Netanyahu to turn up at the UN next week could also have been interpreted as an unnecessary snub to the UN at a time when Israel is already facing growing diplomatic isolation.
The announcement suggests that the Israeli government now has little faith in the last-ditch effort by US and European negotiators to stop the Palestinian drive for statehood at the UN. According to several officials and diplomats, Mr Abbas on Wednesday rebuffed an alternative “package” that was drafted and presented by Tony Blair, the international community’s Middle East envoy.
The deal would have involved a statement by the Middle East Quartet (the US, UN, Russia and the European Union) calling for a return to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The statement would have included a timeline for negotiations and clearer terms of reference than were offered in the past – for example on the likely borders of a future Palestinian state. The package, according to several people involved in the talks, also held out the promise of a UN resolution, though one that would have stopped short of endorsing Palestinian statehood at this point.
Mr Abbas, however, told Mr Blair that the deal on offer was not sufficient. Palestinian officials said it fell short of, among other things, the Palestinian demand for Israel to freeze construction in Jewish West Bank settlements. It was also unclear whether the Israeli government itself was ready to accept the Quartet statement – a key point for Palestinian negotiators.
“We believe these last-minute moves were not for the sake of restarting peace talks, but for the sake of preventing the Palestinians from going to the UN,” one Palestinian official based in Ramallah said.
Mr Abbas is still facing strong pressure from senior US officials to step back from the UN move. However, most officials and diplomats believe that there is now little chance of stopping a Palestinian bid for statehood, which could take place either at the UN Security Council or in the UN General Assembly. Mr Abbas himself is scheduled to give a television address on Friday night, amid speculation that he will use the broadcast to finally reveal the precise Palestinian proposal for statehood at the UN. source – FT
Yes on Palestine, No on Israel
ATLANTA (AP) – Former President Jimmy Carter says he supports the Palestinians’ effort to gain international recognition of their independence at the United Nations this month.
The Georgia Democrat said Tuesday he wouldn’t be in favor of the Palestinians’ appeal to the U.N. if the White House had “put forward any sort of comprehensive peace proposal.” But he said Palestinians have few other options since no deal is in the works.
He said: “As an alternative to a deadlock and a stalemate now, we reluctantly support the Palestinian move for recognition.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to address the U.N. next week and ask the world to recognize a Palestinian state, despite concerns from some quarters that it could provoke a regional meltdown and further isolate Israel. source – Breitbart