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Nonexistent ‘Palestine’ Becomes Chair of Major U.N. Bloc

Mahmoud Abbas UN
The Associated Press

TEL AVIV – The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to appoint the “State of Palestine” as chair of Group 77, the biggest bloc of developing countries at the United Nations, which would see it able to act like a full U.N. member state in the coming year. 

146 states voted in favor of Resolution A/73/L.5, while only three — the U.S., Israel and Australia — opposed it. Fifteen countries abstained. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said the move was “a mistake.”

Beginning in 2019, “Palestine” will assume the presidency of Group 77 and as such will be able to co-sponsor proposals and amendments, make statements, raise procedural motions and give rights of reply.

U.N. envoy Haley noted that the “Palestinians are not a U.N. member state or any state at all.”

“Today’s U.N. mistake undermines the prospects for peace by encouraging the illusion held by some Palestinian leaders that they can advance their goals without direct peace negotiations,” said Haley in a statement.

Her deputy, Jonathan Cohen, said the resolution was “misguided” and added that the U.S. would not recognize the move.

“We cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations. When the Palestinians speak as chair of the G77 in the General Assembly, we will remind our fellow member-states that the United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state and that no such state has been admitted as a U.N. member state,” he stated.

Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Noa Furman said the resolution “clearly weakens and undermines the U.N.”

Australia said its vote against was in line with its longstanding stance that unilateral moves by the Palestinians are “deeply unhelpful” to a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Earlier this week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his foreign minister, Marise Payne, said in a joint statement that the resolution “seeks to confer an official status on the Palestinian Authority it does not have, and therefore has the potential to undermine efforts to bring parties together to work towards a peaceful settlement.”

The Palestinian envoy to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, said the Palestinians would do their utmost to earn the respect the position deserved.

“The State of Palestine will spare no effort to prove worthy of this trust in its capacity to represent and defend the interests of the Group of 77 and China, while also engaging constructively, and in an inclusive and transparent manner, with all partners, in order to advance cooperation and mutually beneficial agreements, for the common good of all humanity,” he said.

The text of the resolution, which was proposed by Egypt, noted that “State of Palestine is a party to many instruments concluded under the auspices of the United Nations and has joined several specialized agencies and bodies of the United Nations as a full member” and added “that it is for each group to define the modalities of its representation and leadership.”

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