By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
In a historic, although mostly symbolic, move the United Nations Assembly has granted Palestine “Non-Member Observer State” status in the UN Body in a 138 for and 9 against vote (with 41 absentees). This approval came on the day in which the United Nations observes the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and grants Palestine the same rights as the Vatican. Before the vote, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (which controls the West Bank, but Not Gaza) stated:
“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.”
Contrary to some discussion which I’ve heard since this announcement, this move does not name Palestine as an active state or it’s own country but as I stated is largely a symbolic gesture. The move implies that the United Nations is on the route to recognizing Palestine as it’s own defined state, but is simply an upgrade in title from that of “Non-Member Observer Entity”. While many European Countries have backed this bid, Israel and the United States are among some of the top countries against it. The biggest fear is that this bid will escalate tensions between the two countries, but for Israel such a non-member state status brings fear that Palestine might feel empowered to challenge them more on the legal front in the International Criminal Court for violations of international law.
Overall, while a symbolic gesture this move shows a shifting picture in the conflicts and must continued to be watched both for positive and negative outcomes.