United Nations — The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue “birth certificate.”
There were 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions. Three countries did not take part in the vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the United Nations to “non-member state” from “entity.”
The assembly approved the upgrade despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinians by withholding funds for the West Bank government. U.N. envoys said Israel might avoid harsh retaliation as long as the Palestinians did not seek to join the International Criminal Court.
The much-anticipated vote came after Abbas denounced Israel for its “aggressive policies and the perpetration of war crimes” from the U.N. podium, remarks that elicited a furious response from the Jewish state.
“Sixty-five years ago on this day, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, which partitioned the land of historic Palestine into two states and became the birth certificate for Israel,” Abbas told the 193-nation assembly after receiving a standing ovation.
“The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded quickly, condemning Abbas’ critique of Israel as “hostile and poisonous,” and full of “false propaganda.”
“These are not the words of a man who wants peace,” Netanyahu also said in a statement released by his office in Israel.