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      PA Arabs Celebrate as World Reacts to UN Decision

      "World countries have given Bibi Netanyahu a slap in the face," says Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 11/30/2012, 1:45 AM

      PA Arabs celebrate in Ramallah
      PA Arabs celebrate in Ramallah
      Reuters

      The United Nations’ approval of a resolution to recognize “Palestine” as a non-member observer state brought with it reactions both within Israel and from around the world.

      AFP reported that Palestinian Authority Arabs fired in the air, whistled and embraced each other in both PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria as well as in Gaza after the General Assembly vote.

      As the votes were cast, there was silence among the thousands gathered in Ramallah, which erupted with cheers of joy and chants when the 138-9 approval was announced.

      In Bethlehem, fireworks were shot into the night sky, reported AFP, and churches rang their bells at midnight to mark the occasion.

      In Israel, the result of the UN vote was welcomed by Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon, who said that “world countries have given Bibi Netanyahu a slap in the face.”

      “Now that the Palestinian state has been established it is time to establish the Israeli partner,” she said. “This is our opportunity to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians by diplomacy and using ambassadors that will bring an end to the conflict, not by generals and guns which only perpetuate it.”

      Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich said that the UN decision is "a bad outcome before which we heard a difficult speech,” referring to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s speech which fiercely attacked Israel.

      "This is a unilateral decision that affects the only way that we should behave - sober and responsible negotiations," said Yechimovich, adding that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman should ask themselves "how Israel was defeated and embarrassed on their watch."

      Canada, which voted against the PA’s bid, also condemned the outcome of the vote.

      Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird said that giving the PA non-member “undermines the core" of attempts to broker a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.

      "That approach can only result in the steady erosion and collapse of the very foundations of a process which -- while incomplete -- holds the only realistic chance to bring about two peaceful, prosperous states living side-by-side as neighbors," he said ahead of the vote.

      French President Francois Hollande called for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the PA "without conditions and as quickly as possible.”

      "Direct dialogue is in effect the only way to find a definitive end to this conflict. France is ready to contribute to it, as a friend, both of Israel and of Palestine," he said. France had voted in favor of the resolution.

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office responded to the passing of the resolution, saying that "This is a meaningless decision that will not change anything on the ground. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that there will be no establishment of a Palestinian state without a settlement that ensures the security of Israel's citizens.

      “He will not allow a base for Iranian terrorism to be established in Judea and Samaria, in addition to those that have [already] been established in Gaza and Lebanon,” said the statement. “The way to peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah is in direct negotiations, without preconditions, and not in one-sided UN decisions. By going to the UN, the Palestinians have violated the agreements with Israel and Israel will act accordingly."