SA supports Palestine UN bid

Pretoria – South Africa has given its support to the Palestinian bid for full membership in the world body, the United Nations, with President Jacob Zuma urging all member states to vote ‘yes’.

“It is a decisive step towards achieving lasting peace, economic co-operation and prosperity for millions of people in the Middle East and we urge that it be viewed favourably,” Zuma told the high-level annual debate of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

The issue of Palestine’s full membership in the UN is dominating this session and will come to a head on Friday when Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas will make a formal application.

Palestine currently has observer status at the UN, which allows representatives to attend meetings and deliver speeches, but cannot vote.

The process of becoming a recognised state of the UN requires applicants to be accepted by the Security Council. If the council approves, it is passed on to the General Assembly for approval.

However, American media reports that the US government will veto the Palestinians’ request, which would mean their statehood would not be recognised.

In his address to the assembly yesterday, US President Barack Obama urged both sides to make compromises to break the current deadlock, saying that “statements and resolutions” at the UN will not resolve the conflict.

“Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem,” Obama said in his speech.

He stressed that Palestinians deserved their own State and that Israel, for its part, deserved recognition and normal relations with its neighbours.

“Friends of the Palestinians do them no favours by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognise the need to pursue a two-State solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

The fact that each side had legitimate aspirations was one of the reasons it has been difficult to make peace, Obama said.

“The deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.”

Voting will take place on Friday. – BuaNews