U.N. General Assembly elevates status of Palestine delegation


(JTA) — The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to elevate the status of the Palestine delegation, a mostly symbolic action that nonetheless underscored Israel’s isolation as its war with Hamas enters its seventh month.

The resolution, introduced by the United Arab Emirates, passed Friday 143-9 with 25 abstentions, the U.N. news site reported. The votes against included Israel and the United States.

The action is mostly symbolic: Full membership status can only be bestowed by the Security Council, where the United States holds a veto. The General Assembly passed a similar symbolic resolution in 2012, when it elevated the Palestinian observer delegation from being a non-member entity, the Palestine Liberation Organization, to the observer state of Palestine.

The new rights accruing to the Palestine delegation include, according the U.N.news site, the ability to submit or cosponsor proposals and amendments. It also means Palestine will be seated in alphabetical order with other countries, between Palau, which voted against the resolution, and Panama, which voted for it.

The more salient point of the session was to express international objection to how Israel has conducted its war with Hamas in Gaza, which the terror group launched with its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“Today let us remember the legacy from which we hail,” said Dennis Francis, the ambassador from Trinidad and Tobago and the current General Assembly president, when opening the session. “We stand proudly upon the shoulders of those who, many decades ago, recognized their ultimate responsibility to forge a peace that will banish the scourge and terror of war.”

The Palestinian delegation represents the PLO, which is a rival to Hamas, but which has decried Israel’s conduct. “No words can capture what such loss and trauma signify for Palestinians, their families, their communities and for our nation as whole,” said the Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour.

Israel Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who frequently lambastes the U.N. for fixating on criticizing Israel, said elevating the Palestinian delegation’s status rewards Hamas for its terrorism. He tore up a copy of the U.N. charter at the podium to symbolize what he depicted as the General Assembly’s departure from the organization’s founding principles.

“You have opened up the United Nations to modern-day Nazism,” he said. “It makes me sick.”

U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood, an alternate to Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the action undercut efforts to bring about a two-state outcome through negotiations. “There is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and future as a democratic Jewish state,” he said. “There is not other path that guarantees Palestinians can live in peace and dignity in a state of their own.”

Recommended from JTA