A U.N. General Assembly vote on Thursday recognising a Palestinian state will do nothing to make it a reality, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Israel had fiercely opposed the Palestinian bid to become a “non-member state” at the United Nations, but had been unable to prevent wide international support for the initiative, notably among its European allies.
“This is a meaningless resolution that won’t change anything on the ground. No Palestinian state will arise without an arrangement ensuring the security of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office shortly before the U.N. vote was to be held.
Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of violating agreements with Israel by going to the U.N. unilaterally. “Israel will act accordingly,” Netanyahu said. “The way to peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah is through direct negotiations without preconditions, not unilateral decisions at the U.N.”
Peace talks collapsed in 2010 in a dispute over Jewish settlement building on territory Palestinians seek for a state.
The Israeli leader used unusually strong language to denounce a speech to the General Assembly by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - who had singled out an Israeli offensive in Gaza last week in which at least 170 Palestinians were killed. Six Israelis died in rocket fire from Gaza.
Abbas’s comments were “hostile and poisonous”, and full of “false propaganda”, a statement released by Netanyahu’s office said. “These are not the words of a man who wants peace.”
Israel 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 took place on a date burned into collective memory - 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.