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U.N. holds vote on Palestine, acknowledges Palestinian statehood

A ceasefire between Palestinian Hamas group in Gaza and the Israeli government was announced Nov. 29, as Palestine was lifted from its status from an observer state of the United Nations to a non-member state. The resolution passed 138-9 with 41 abstentions, allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

This change allows the Palestinian Authority to participate in General Assembly debates, and increases its ability to gain access to United Nations Agencies and the International Criminal Court – an independent body-separate from the United Nations.

However, this access is not guaranteed. According to BBC, in the event that Palestine is allowed to sign the ICC’s treaty, the hope is that prosecutors will investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Susan Rice, the U.S.’s Ambassador to the United Nations, expressed U.S. opposition in a press release from the United States Mission to the United Nations:

“For decades, the United States has worked to help achieve a comprehensive end to the long and tragic Arab-Israeli conflict. We have always been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two peoples, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

“That remains our goal, and we therefore measure any proposed action against that clear yardstick: will it bring the parties closer to peace or push them further apart? Will it help Israelis and Palestinians return to negotiations or hinder their efforts to reach a mutually acceptable agreement?”

According to the Council of Foreign Relations, the United States opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s new status could lead to future criticism labeling the United States as a hypocrites, since the US has supported the revolutions in Libya and Egypt who fought for democracy. In a statement they said:

“The U.S. opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s renewed bid could alienate the Arab and Islamic world on an issue of central political significance and at a time of great political upheaval. The opposition could isolate Washington, exposing it to criticisms of hypocrisy (e.g., supporting a rebellion in Libya and Egypt, but opposing the self-determination of Palestinians) and impair its ability to mediate the Israeli- Palestinian peace and cultivate alliances with nascent Arab democracies.”

The Palestinian Authority has been trying, since 1967 to establish a sovereign state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, which were occupied by Israel during the Six Day War.

Palestine protested Israeli settlements and sought self-governance in West Bank and the Gaza Strip. That same year, the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 242, which asked for the “withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.

The Palestine-nationalist organization, Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the Israeli government signed the Oslo Accords of 1993 in an attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, allowing for the creation of a Palestinean self-government. According to the BBC, the most recent negotiations broke in 2010.

Palenstinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, attempted to gain full membership status at the UN for the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2011. Two months later his request was denied, and he requested for Palestine to be a non-member state.

Dr. Matthew Bolton, assistant professor of Political Science and Faculty Advisor to the university’s Model United Nations team said, “This shows the importance of learning about international relations and how the United Nations operates. It also demonstrates that despite the growing importance of non-state actors in global politics, statehood still means something. “It offers access to recognition, impact and authority that movements, businesses and nonprofits don’t have by themselves.”