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World embraces Palestine; snubs US, Israel

WASHINGTON, Dec 1 (Agencies)
Published on 2 Dec. 2012 1:16 AM IST
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The United States and its ally Israel were isolated and humiliated on world stage on Thursday after the international community overwhelmingly voted to upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer state in the United Nations.
Canada, Panama, the Czech Republic and four tiny Pacific island states were the only ones in the 193-member UN General Assembly that backed the Washington-Tel Aviv axis in the crushing 9-138 defeat, with 41 abstentions. Allies and friends abandoned the United States and Israel in droves, fracturing a facade of western unity that Washington had long engineered.

India voted for the upgrade in keeping with its long-standing support for the Palestinian cause, showing that its strategic ties with the United States and intense defence cooperation with Israel will hardly inhibit it from making an independent call.

But the real shock for the US and Israel came from Europe, which, with the exception of the Czech Republic, deserted the duo.  France led the European revolt, and it was joined by Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, and Denmark as the 27-member European Union put behind its historic sympathy for Jewish state in the face of what many see as growing atrocities on the Palestinian people. Such is the change of mood in the international community that even the United States lackeys such as Australia and Singapore abstained, leaving Washington and Tel Aviv isolated.  Philippines, a virtual client state of the US, voted in favour of Palestine.

Thursday’s vote falls well short an independent Palestinian nation, the eventual goal of the Palestinian people. As a nonmember observer state, instead of an “entity” or “territory”, Palestine will now be on a diplomatic par with the Vatican, the only other non-member state. It will also be eligible for membership in UN institutions. Much of the Israeli and US opposition stemmed from the fear that with its upgraded status, Palestine will now seek to join institutions such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a move which will enable it to lobby for war crime charges to be brought against Tel Aviv.

US and Israel reacted angrily to the Palestinian victory, threatening to cut off assistance and access to rag-tag state that has its own internal power struggle between the Palestinian Authority that rules the West bank and Hamas that controls Gaza. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for whom the defeat comes as a parting shock given that she is on her way out, described the vote as “unfortunate and counterproductive... because it places further obstacles in the path to peace”. She said only direct negotiations between the two parties could lead to lasting peace.

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