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Overwhelming UN vote for Palestine membership

Source: X / Sky News UK

Australia has supported Palestine’s United Nations membership in a vote that overwhelmingly succeeded.

The non-binding resolution called upon the UN Security Council to reconsider the issue after the US vetoed a similar resolution.

The assembly adopted a resolution with 143 votes in favour – including Australia – and nine against – including the US and Israel – while 25 countries abstained. It does not give the Palestinians full UN membership, but simply recognises them as qualified to join.

Palestine is pushing to be elevated to full UN membership from its current non-member observer state as war rages in the Gaza Strip and the US and allies call for a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict with Israel.

“As long as so many of you are ‘Jew-hating,’ you don’t really care that the Palestinians are not ‘peace-loving’,” UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told his fellow diplomats. He accused the assembly of shredding the UN Charter – as he used a small shredder to destroy a copy of the Charter while at the lectern.

“Shame on you,” Erdan said.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong had said before the vote that even if Australia had abstained, it would have meant the government could “agree in part with the resolution”.

“It can send a message that, whilst you don’t agree with it in full, you’re not going to stand in the way,” she told ABC radio.

Senator Wong reaffirmed Australia’s position was “not a question of if we will recognise a Palestinian state, it’s a question of when”.

Palestine’s representative in Australia said supporting the vote would have added to Australia’s credibility on the international stage and was in line with its policy to eventually recognise statehood.

Israel and opponents to the resolution have argued that elevating Palestine while Hamas remained in Gaza following its October 7 attack would be seen as rewarding terrorism and violence.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham had called on the government to vote against the full membership.

But his comments came ahead of the motion in the context of an expected “call for or enable some form of recognition of a Palestinian state”.

“How you get to a two-state solution matters,” he told Sky News.

“And whether or not a motion like this actually creates the right incentives to get to a two state-solution or creates the incentives for Hamas and others to see that the tactics of October 7 work.”

Israel has also condemned any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state before it negotiates an outcome.

But Senator Wong said pushing ahead with recognition and a two-state solution would actually undermine Hamas.

“Hamas wants conflict, this is about long-term peace. Hamas wants to destroy Israel, this is about long-term security for Israel,” she said.

The vote came as Israel received international condemnation for pushing further into Gaza’s last refuge, Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians are sheltering following widespread destruction of the strip.

US President Joe Biden has threatened to withhold weapons exports to Israel if it pressed ahead with a full scale invasion of Rafah while Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong expressed concerns about the humanitarian situation.

Australia has called for a humanitarian ceasefire to allow for the release of remaining hostages and for unimpeded aid to flow into Gaza.

Hamas – designated a terrorist group by the Australian government – launched an attack on Israel on October 7 that killed 1200 people and led another 250 to be taken hostage, according to Israel’s tallies.

Israel has since launched a ground offensive and bombing campaign in Gaza that has killed almost 35,000 people and injured about 77,000 more, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

—AAP

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