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In PHOTOS: Celebrations as UN upgrades Palestine status

Last updated on: November 30, 2012 09:58 IST

In PHOTOS: Celebrations as UN upgrades Palestine status

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Palestine overwhelmingly won a historical United Nations General Assembly vote, which will upgrade its status to non-member observer state at the world body, despite intense opposition from the United States and Israel.

India was among the 138 nations in the 193-member body that voted in favour while nine countries opposed the resolution that sought upgrading the status of the Palestinian Authority from 'entity' to 'non-member observer state. Forty-one countries abstained from the voting, which took place on Thursday.

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Image: A Palestinian man shouts slogans during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution on Thursday to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the United Nations from "entity" to "non-member state," implicitly recognising a Palestinian state
Photographs: Marko Djurica/Reuters

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Celebrations as UN upgrades Palestine status

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "an important vote" has taken place in the General Assembly.

"Today's vote underscores the urgency of a resumption of meaningful negotiations. We must give new impetus to our collective efforts to ensure that an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine lives side by side with a secure State of Israel," Ban said in his remarks after the votes were cast.

The symbolic vote signified the huge international backing for Palestine and came as a stinging defeat for Israel and the US.


Image: A Palestinian woman holds a Palestinian flag as she celebrates on a street in Gaza City
Photographs: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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Celebrations as UN upgrades Palestine status

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The vote could enable Palestine to access bodies like the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which prosecutes people for genocide, war crimes and major human rights violations. Some nations like the United Kingdom have said Palestine could use access to the International Criminal Court to complain about Israel.

In his address to the General Assembly before the vote, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the vote will "issue a birth certificate of the reality of the state of Palestine".


Image: A masked Palestinian gestures as he celebrates on a street in Gaza City on November 30
Photographs: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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Celebrations as UN upgrades Palestine status

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"...Our people have witnessed, and continue to witness, an unprecedented intensification of military assaults, the blockade, settlement activities and ethnic cleansing, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, and mass arrests, attacks by settlers and other practices by which this Israeli occupation is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalises the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement," Abbas said."The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation," he said.

"We did not come here seeking to delegitimise a State established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the State that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine," Abbas told the Assembly before the vote.


Image: Palestinians take part in a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah
Photographs: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

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Celebrations as UN upgrades Palestine status

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The Palestinian Authority president said with the vote the world was being asked to undertake a significant step in the process of rectifying the "unprecedented historical injustice" inflicted on the Palestinian people since 1948.

"Your support for our endeavour today," he said, "will send a promising message -- to millions of Palestinians on the land of Palestine, in the refugee camps both in the homeland and the Diaspora, and to the prisoners struggling for freedom in Israel's prisons -- that justice is possible and that there is a reason to be hopeful and that the peoples of the world do not accept the continuation of the occupation."

Image: Palestinians take part in a rally while the speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is being projected in the West Bank city of Ramallah
Photographs: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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Celebrations as UN upgrades Palestine status

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Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said his delegation could not accept the resolution "because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn't advance peace, it pushes it backwards," he stated, adding that peace could only be achieved through negotiations.Prosor said the resolution would do nothing to advance the peace process.

"Today the Palestinians are turning their back on peace," he said. "Don't let history record that today the UN helped them along on their march of folly."

"There's only one route to Palestinian statehood and that route does not run through this chamber in New York. That route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians," he added. "There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions."



Image: Palestinians shout slogans during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah
Photographs: Marko Djurica/Reuters

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The Israelis and Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In the resolution, the Assembly also voiced the hope that the Security Council will "consider favourably" the application submitted in September 2011 by Palestine for full UN membership.

The vote comes on the same day that the UN observed the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Established in 1977, the day marks the date in 1947 when the Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning then-mandated Palestine into two States, one Jewish and one Arab.


Image: Palestinians hold posters with an image of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and wave Palestinian flags during a rally opposite to part of Israel's controversial barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem
Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters

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