Some within the United States and Israel claim that the vote was counter-productive to the long stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process and is merely a symbolic gesture which changes little in terms of the reality for the people of Palestine.
Unity within the Palestinians is in of itself somewhat of a chimera at this point as Palestinian loyalty is divided between the factions of Fatah based in the West Bank and Hamas based in Gaza. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) claimed the vote, which was done on the 65th anniversary of the partitioning of Palestine to form the State of Israel, was a major step in the process of Palestine becoming a full member of the U.N. and an independent nation.
The vote, which does not grant Palestine membership in the General Assembly, does allow Palestine to take part in other activities of the U.N., most notably the International Criminal Court. Israel now fears Abbas and the Palestinians will attempt to raise issues in the court concerning Israeli actions in what is popularly known as “the Occupied Territories.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Isreali Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor claimed that before any talk of Palestinian independence can begin, Palestinians must first recognize the State of Israel as an independent Jewish State, something it has yet to do. In fact Salah al-Bardaweel, a spokesman for the Hamas faction said in a statement, “We do not recognize Israel, nor the partition of Palestine, and Israel has no right in Palestine. Getting our membership in the U.N bodies is our natural right, but without giving up any inch of Palestine’s soil.”
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice had this to say following the historic vote, “Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade, and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”
Major United States allies supported the change in defiance of American protests including France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. Aside from Canada no major nation joined the United States and Israel in opposition; even normally stout allies Germany and Great Britain decided to abstain.