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Palestinians Granted Statehood Status

Palestinians Granted Statehood Status

After years of pursuing a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) at the United Nations, the Palestinians succeeded in upgrading their status to "non-member observer state." The vote—138 in favor, 9 opposed and 41 abstentions—implicitly recognizes "Palestine" as a sovereign country and opens Israel up to further attacks and delegitimization.

Hadassah National President Marcie Natan released a statement expressing disappointment in the outcome of today's vote and the process by which it occurred.

Hadassah stands proudly with the State of Israel and affirms that the only step forward for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is direct, bilateral negotiations without pre-conditions. . . . We look hopefully toward a future of stability for the region and call on the governments of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States, and the international community, including the United Nations, to resume negotiations and pursue, in earnest, the peaceful fulfillment of a two-state solution. We believe in a peaceful future for Israel and its neighbors.

Click here to read the full statement.

Israel and its allies have emphasized that this declaration is contrary to all prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements and counterproductive to future peace negotiations. By pursuing UDI, the Palestinians receive benefits of international recognition, while circumventing necessary communication and compromise.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today:

Israel's hand is always extended in peace, but a Palestinian state will not be established without recognition of the state of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, without an end-of-conflict declaration, and without true security arrangements that will protect Israel and its citizens. . . . It does not matter how many will vote against us, there is no force in the world that will cause me to compromise on Israeli security and there is no force in the world able to sever the thousands year connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement following the vote that "the only way to establish such a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through the crucial, if painful, work of direct negotiations between the parties."

The Palestinians are expected to use their statehood status to challenge Israel, both politically and legally, on the international stage—labeling Israel as an occupier of the Palestinian "state" and pursuing legal action at the International Criminal Court (ICC)—all the while, avoiding dialogue and any recognition of Israel's own rights to self-determination, sovereignty and security.

The vote was scheduled today to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Plan—the original proposal for a two-state solution. In 1947, the Palestinians and their allies did not accept the proposal, though some Palestinian leaders have since stated that the decision was a mistake. Now the Palestinians claim that "in the ultimate expression of multilateralism" they are achieving the Plan's promise of Palestinian statehood through peaceful, diplomatic, and political means. Opponents counter that Palestinians must embrace all the plan's tenets—two independent, sovereign states, Jewish and Arab, "settling all international disputes . . . by peaceful means"—before any true Palestinian state can exist.

The Palestinian Authority had already secured a majority before the vote, with statements of support from most Arab and African League countries, and several other post-colonial countries that have historically been sympathetic to the Palestinians. With the United States and Canada as staunch and consistent supporters of Israel, most of the pre-vote attention has been on Europe. The breadth of European support is widely viewed as an indication of the Palestinians' true legitimacy. Of the 27 European countries, over half the countries abstained—including the United Kingdom, Germany and much of eastern Europe—but the Czech Republic was the only country to vote no.

After failing to dissuade Abbas from proceeding, Britain proposed supporting statehood with conditions—such as refraining from ICC membership and committing to immediate negotiations without pre-conditions. Abbas responded that the Palestinian Authority would not be running immediately to the ICC, but did not give firm enough assurances to secure Britain's support. The Palestinians did petition the ICC to investigate the 2008-2009 Gaza War, but the court declined in April 2012 because the Palestinians did not have statehood status.

It is expected that in the coming days Congress will present resolutions urging the Palestinians not to seek ICC membership. Hadassah Members, Associates and supporters will be able to contact their elected officials through the Hadassah National Action Center when the legislation has been formalized.

Israel, in close coordination with the United States, is taking security concerns and future negotiations into account as they pursue next steps toward peace. Hadassah will continue to follow the situation closely and will send additional updates about the repercussions of today's vote as they become available.

Date: 11/29/2012 12:00:00 AM

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