Israel: UN Palestinian State Vote Won't Help Peace

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a non-member state. But could the vote put Israel and P.A. even further from the negotiating table and any peace agreement?

The historic vote passed overwhelmingly: 138 in favor, 41 abstentions, and nine against.

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas said they would accept nothing less than an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

"This time we are determined to go. Nothing is going to shake us. The train has left the station," Nabil Shaath, senior aide to Abbas, said. "There is no way we can be deterred, we can be frightened, we can be pushed around and I think that this determination became greater after this war in Gaza."

Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, known biblically as Judea and Samaria, celebrated the vote. Palestinians celebrated in Hamas-controlled Gaza, too.

"It's a wonderful feeling, it's amazing. Allah willing, unity between Fatah and Hamas will happen very soon in the near future, we will be brothers and together we will destroy the Israeli entity. Allah willing, we are going to victory, victory, victory," Gaza resident and Hamas supporter Abu Ahmad said.

The vote was largely symbolic, but Abbas seized on the symbolism, calling the vote a birth certificate for the state of Palestine. The vote took place 65 years to the day when Arabs rejected a United Nations resolution that created a Jewish state and could have given them an Arab state decades ago.

Palestinians say the U.N. backing will strengthen their hand in negotiations. But Israel said it will make talks even tougher.

"The truth is when the party is over and when people wake up tomorrow morning, they'll see that nothing is changed, that reality on the ground remains as is," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CBN News.

"The only way forward is not meaningless theater at the United Nations; the way forward is to have meaningful peace talks," he said.

The U.N. vote dealt both Israel and the United States a huge diplomatic blow.

"The path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"We have made very clear to the Palestinian leadership -- you know I met with President Abbas just last week -- that we oppose Palestinian efforts to upgrade their status at the U.N., outside of the framework of negotiations to achieve a two-state solution," she said.

For now, nothing has really changed. But it could also give Palestinians some clout if they take Israelis to the International Criminal Court.

They could also force the question of the fate of Jerusalem or the fate of hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in their biblical homeland of Judea and Samaria.

Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird says the United Nation's decision regarding "Palestine" is an "impediment to peace."

Today, Baird recalled his senior diplomats from the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the U.N. missions in New York and Geneva to assess the implications of Thursday's vote.

Baird, who travelled to New York to vote against the measure, says he's deeply disappointed by the vote.

In a speech yesterday, Baird suggested Canada may take retaliatory measures against the Palestinian Authority.

CBN's David Brody says Sen. Rand Paul is planning a trip to the Middle East to meet with leaders on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict.   

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Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Bureau

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