UN to vote on Palestine statehood bid

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 The Palestinians appear certain to earn approval in the 193-member United Nations General Assembly for a status upgrade to “observer state” today with overwhelming support from the developing world.
More European states joined France yesterday in backing a Palestinian bid for limited statehood that will face a vote today, though Britain held back, saying it wanted an assurance that the Palestinians would not pursue Israel through the International Criminal Court, Reuters reported.

Germany said it was opposing the diplomatic upgrade for the Palestinians at the United Nations, joining Israel and the United States, which say the only genuine route to statehood was via a peace agreement made in direct talks with Israel. “Our goal in all this is to prevent further negative effects on the already difficult Middle East peace process,” German foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said. Semi-statehood could allow Palestinian territories to access the court and other international bodies. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is leading the campaign and several European governments are eager to give him their support.

Switzerland, Denmark and Austria said they would vote for the upgrade and France gave its approval on Nov. 27. Britain said it would not oppose the move but needed more assurances before giving its support.

Davutoğlu in New York

“The first is that the Palestinian Authority should indicate a clear commitment to return immediately to negotiations without preconditions,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told the British Parliament. “The second assurance relates to membership of other specialized U.N. agencies and action in the International Criminal Court.” Abbas had reiterated his commitment to re-launch the peace process immediately following the U.N. vote, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said.

Turkey is supporting Palestine’s bid as well, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu holding meetings in New York yesterday in support of Palestine’s campaign.

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