Celebrations at Palestine UN vote – but UK abstention attacked as “historic misjudgement”

Yesterday saw the UN vote to make Palestine a ‘non-member observer state’ - a vote the UK abstained from.


Yesterday the UN voted resoundingly to upgrade Palestine’s status to a non-member observer state, a decision met with applause, a standing ovation and celebrations on the streets of Ramallah.

Although not a member state, the promotion does afford Palestine potential membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a voice in UN debates. The vote was passed overwhelmingly, 138-9, with 41 countries abstaining. Included amongst the abstentions was the UK.

Despite Left Foot Forward having clearly laid out the reasons and moral obligations to vote in favour, the UK abstained on the basis of leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, having not explicitly stated he would renew peace talks with Israel.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander criticised the decision to abstain, tweeting:

“The UK Govt’s decision to abstain on the UN vote on enhanced status for Palestinians is worse than a blunder. It is a historic misjudgement.”


“Vote for enhanced status for Palestinians at UN is an important non-violent legal and diplomatic step towards a negotiated 2 state solution”

The UK and Germany were isolated in their abstention amongst the vast majority of European nations, who voted for the measure, including France, Italy and Spain. Many believe this move to be a step towards a two-state solution and formal recognition of Palestine as a state; more than just symbolic, it also offers legitimacy to Abbas over his militant rivals in Gaza, Hamas.

Others, however have criticised it, such as Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American activist. He described both the UN and the celebrations as a “distraction”.

The highest profile no votes, unsurprisingly, were from the US and Israel. The US has attempted to quantify its position and criticise the decision made by the UN by saying that the move was “counter-productive”, warning it may result in a reduction of US economic support for Palestine.

The reaction in the Israeli press has been similarly downbeat.

The liberal-left broadsheet Ha’aretz went with the headline:

“UN vote gives U.S. Jews one more reason to worry about Israel’s future”


“Israel suffers humiliating defeat at UN”

Yediot Aharonot, one of Israel’s most widely read papers, went with downplaying the Palestinian celebration, emphasising their number as a “few thousand” and writing of the heckles the Israeli Ambassador received when he appeared on a large screen set up in Yasser Arafat square.

Despite some of the negative reaction, the promotion of Palestine to an observer state must surely to be welcomed.

See also:

Five reasons the UK should back Palestine’s UN bidNovember 29th, 2012

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35 Responses to “Celebrations at Palestine UN vote – but UK abstention attacked as “historic misjudgement””

  1. Newsbot9

    Indeed. A missed opportunity to vote against this racialising, anti-peace movement towards a three-state solution. That you welcome this…

  2. ronald top

    what we need is a one state solution where israelis and palestinians can live in one state together. a 2 state solution won’t work – we need a fully multicultural Levant with every other type of person in it too. just israelis and palestinians would be too dualistic. you need pakistanis and africans and bangladeshis. it would be wonderful! like the shittier parts of London!

  3. Newsbot9

    No surprise you’re anti-Semetic.

    And yes, you keep trying to equate the areas of London where your feral thugs hang out to a completely different situation.

  4. ron

    it is spelt Semitic – and I’m not anti it.

    I think that Israel and Palestine should be 1 country shared by both peoples (both of whom are Semitic as far as I am aware). It could be the touchstone of what a mutlicultural society should look like.

  5. larnaca

    I don’t see why Palestinians and Israelis don’t just marry each other and have kids. Their kids will be a mix and will have no animosity to either side. They could say a free house in Israel/Palestine for any mixed marriages.

    Like the Angles, Saxons and Jutes intermarrying in England to produce the English. Nobody regrets their passing, everyone’s happy.

Comments are closed.