On Thursday the United Nations General Assembly voted to formally recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state. The vote will give Palestine methods to confront Israel in international legal forums over occupation in the West Bank, but may not do much to advance the peace process between the two countries.
Of countries voting in the General Assembly, 138 voted in favor of recognizing Palestine. The United States, Israel, and seven other nations voted against the measure; forty-one nations abstained. The United States and Israel say Palestinian statehood should only come as a result of bilateral negotiations, as was stipulated when the Palestinian Authority was created by the 1993 Oslo peace accords. They also oppose Palestine attempting to join the International Criminal Court and seeking investigations into Israeli practices in occupied territories.
Palestinians celebrated the move, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying recognition of Palestine in the U.N. was the "last chance to save the two-state solution."
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice condemned the vote as being detrimental to the peace process:
Today's grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the vote was "unfortunate and counterproductive."
Israeli Government Spokesman Mark Regev also renounced the vote as a further roadblock to peace between his country and Palestine.
"This is negative political theatre that takes us out of a negotiating process. It's going to hurt peace," Regev said.
Israel and Palestine have been seeking to settle their land disputes for decades, with the most recent Israeli military attack, aimed at the Gaza Strip, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties. Israel said the eight-day assault was in response to Palestinian fire into their territory.
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