UN votes to give Palestine non-member status

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UN votes to give Palestine non-member status

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The UN General Assembly has decided to upgrade Palestine from an observer to non-member status.

There was joy from many inside the Assembly in New York, especially from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The 193 member states voted overwhelmingly in favour, with 138 in favour, 41 abstentions and nine voting no – the most prominent of which came from Israel and the US.

Abbas made a plea before the ballot. Highlighting the recent conflict with Israel in the Gaza Strip, he said: “The agression in Gaza shows that Palestinians need freedom and it shows that Israel uses the politics of agression. The International Community has to search for peace by voting for Palestine to have UN non-member status.”

Unlike at the Security Council, where the bid for Palestinian full membership was blocked last year, there is no veto in the General Assembly and the two thirds majority vote needed was easily accomplished.

Even before voting began, there were already celebrations on the streets of Ramallah.

Now Palestinians are more happy about a decision they imagine could bring them a step closer to an independent state.

Perhaps it is fitting that the ballot that went in their favour was held on Palestinian Solidarity Day.