A U.N. General Assembly vote on Thursday recognising a Palestinian state will do nothing to make it a reality in practice, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “no matter how many hands are raised against us”.
Despite its fierce opposition to the Palestinian bid to become a “non-member state” at the United Nations, Israel seems unwilling to show itself diplomatically isolated and has toned down threats of retaliation in the face of wide international support for the initiative, notably among its European allies.
“The decision at the United Nations will change nothing on the ground,” Netanyahu said during a visit to a museum in Jerusalem. “It will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state. It will delay it further.”
Israel, arguing it would hinder efforts to conclude a peace treaty after 65 years of conflict, had mounted an intensive campaign, supported by the United States, to dissuade European governments from backing the Palestinian move in the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly, long sympathetic to the Palestinians.
The vote takes place on a date burned into collective memory - when the Assembly voted on Nov. 29, 1947 for Resolution 181, to partition British-ruled Palestine into two states, one Arab, one Jewish. Arab rulers rejected it and, after bitter fighting, Israel alone was recognised as a state six months later.
“No matter how many hands are raised against us,” Netanyahu said of the U.N. vote, “there is no power on earth that will cause me to compromise on Israel’s security.”
Israel, which has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, says a Palestinian state must be the product of direct negotiations and a peace deal that imposes security measures and charts borders that pose no danger to Israelis.
Netanyahu made no mention of any punitive Israeli measures in his remarks, in contrast to Israeli comments just weeks ago.