Philippines supports Palestinian state
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines supports an independent Palestinian state, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday after Manila voted in favor of a move to grant Palestine a non-member observer state status at the United Nations.
"The Philippines supports Palestine's quest for self rule and self determination and we hope that one day an independent Palestine may live side by side in peace with its neighbors," DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.
He said the move is part of the Philippines' belief that a 2-state solution will help end the violence between Palestine and Israel.
"In line with this desire and our support for the two state solution, the Philippines voted in favor of the resolution granting Palestine non-Member Observer State Status," Hernandez said, explaining the Philippines' vote.
Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-On, whose country was among the only 9 to cast a vote opposing the UN move, claimed that Israel also wants a Palestinian state.
"This must be reached through direct negotiation which both sides agreed and signed 20 years ago that all our core issues and everything will be resolved through direct negotiation," Bar-On said.
He expressed concern on the UN Resolution that was approved on Friday.
"How can we trust the Palestinians if they are going to sign with them an agreement about daily issues if we can't trust them that they will comply with their promises?" he said.
"Once we have wisdom to do things I think we can reach the goal of peace and we will have two states living side by side - one for the Jewish people and the other for the Palestinia. We hope this resolution will not set back the peace process," Bar-On said.
Palestine's 'birth certificate'
The 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue "birth certificate."
The UN victory for the Palestinians was a diplomatic setback for the United States and Israel, which were joined by only a handful of countries in voting against the move to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the United Nations to "non-member state" from "entity," like the Vatican.
There were 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions. Three countries did not take part in the vote, held on the 65th anniversary of the adoption of U.N. resolution 181 that partitioned Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.
Thousands of flag-waving Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip set off fireworks and danced in the streets to celebrate the vote.
The assembly approved the upgrade despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinians by withholding funds for the West Bank government. UN envoys said Israel might not retaliate harshly against the Palestinians over the vote as long as they do not seek to join the International Criminal Court.
If the Palestinians were to join the ICC, they could file complaints with the court accusing Israel of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious crimes.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote "unfortunate and counterproductive," while the Vatican praised the move and called for an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem, something bound to irritate Israel.
The much-anticipated vote came after Abbas denounced Israel from the U.N. podium for its "aggressive policies and the perpetration of war crimes," remarks that elicited a furious response from the Jewish state.
"Sixty-five years ago on this day, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, which partitioned the land of historic Palestine into two states and became the birth certificate for Israel," Abbas told the assembly after receiving a standing ovation.
"The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded quickly, condemning Abbas' critique of Israel as "hostile and poisonous," and full of "false propaganda.
"These are not the words of a man who wants peace," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. He reiterated Israeli calls for direct talks with the Palestinians, dismissing Thursday's resolution as "meaningless." - with a report from Reuters