In Symbol of Israel’s Changed Status, U.N. Votes to Support Peace Process

The United Nations General Assembly passed its widest-ranging resolution on the Middle East last week, supporting the ongoing peace process by a lopsided margin of 149-4.

In a reflection of the changes in Israel’s status in the world body in recent years, it was Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Libya on the losing end of the Dec. 16 vote.

Sponsored by Norway, Russia and the United States, the resolution expressed “full support for the achievements of the peace process thus far.”

Sudan and Antigua abstained.

Israel welcomed the measure, whose wording was worked out in negotiations involving the sponsors, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“This is an impressive expression of the wide international support for progress toward peace and in the policies of the Israeli government,” said Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gad Yaacobi, following the vote on the resolution.

“This is a continuation of the positive shift in the relations between Israel and the international community,” he said.

By contrast, Israeli officials downplayed the significance of two other measures passed last week, declaring illegal Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and of Jerusalem.

The United States was the only country joining Israel in opposing these resolutions. The vote on the Golan resolution was 77 in favor, two opposed and 70 abstentions. The Jerusalem measure passed by a vote of 138-2, with seven abstentions.

Another resolution, calling for Palestinian “self – determination,” was scheduled to be approved this week.

The wording of the resolutions represent a definite softening from those of their predecessors.

Unlike resolutions passed annually before the peace process got underway, the resolutions do not “condemn” or “strongly condemn” Israel, but merely “determine” Israeli actions to violate international law.

Israel had opposed these three resolutions, a arguing that they prejudged issues that are to be negotiated in accordance with the ongoing peace talks.

But Israel was not overly concerned about their impact.

“The fact that the Palestinians get an endorsement for their position won’t effect what we’ll achieve in bilateral negotiations,” said one Israeli diplomat here.

“The U.N. will support post-facto whatever we achieve between us,” he added.

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