PA Chairman Abbas at UN
PA Chairman Abbas at UNReuters

Jewish groups expressed deep concern over the decision of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday to vote in favor of upgrading the status of the Palestinian Authority to non-member state.

The resolution, which was approved by a vote of 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions, has granted the Palestinian Authority de facto status as a sovereign state based on its own territorial claims, thus enabling it to circumvent final status negotiations with Israel.

“With this resolution, the General Assembly has handed the Palestinian leadership a pyrrhic public relations victory, which in all likelihood will make it even more difficult to move the process forward,” asserted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “The result of the vote is no surprise — the General Assembly has always given a rubber stamp to Palestinian declarations and grandstanding. Adding insult to injury, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in his remarks reiterated some of his more outrageous charges against Israel.  Included were lies and distortions accusing Israel of aggression in the recent conflict with Gaza, of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, colonialism and racism.  His were not the words of a statesman seeking peace.”

“In the long term this resolution will have potentially disastrous consequences for future Palestinian aspirations.  It brings the Palestinian people no closer to statehood, nor does it bring Israel closer to peace and security.  And it demonstrates to the majority of Israelis who support a negotiated peace agreement that the Palestinian Authority has no interest in negotiations, reconciliation, or peace,” the ADL added.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said the resolution “recklessly set back the chances for peace” and urged “a full review of America’s relations with the PLO, including closure of the PLO’s office in Washington.”

“In requesting this action, PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is effectively turning his back on talks with Israel and destroying his credibility as someone genuinely interested in a serious peace process,” AIPAC stated. “Abbas has reinforced the message he sent in a May 2011 New York Times op-ed that he intends to widen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by pursuing claims against Israel before international bodies that can neither bring peace nor well-being to his people.”

The newly acquired status grants the PA access to the International Criminal Court at The Hague and other similar bodies, which would enable it to pursue “war crime” charges and other grievances against the Jewish state.  

“Congress has frequently warned the PLO that there would be consequences for its relationship with the United States if the PLO refuses to demonstrate its commitment to peace with Israel. Congress has specifically linked continued aid and the operation of the PLO office in Washington to the Palestinians not seeking statehood status at the United Nations,” asserted AIPAC.

The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI)  denounced the decision issuing the following statement from President Farley Weiss:

"The UN recognition applies to land that is historically Jewish and that Israel won in a defensive war. This recognition is outrageous as this land was never part of a Palestinian state as one never existed. The Arabs rejected a UN supported Palestinian state in 1947 and subsequently attacked the Jewish people trying to form the State of Israel in May 1948. The Palestinian Arabs have attacked Israel, both militarily and politically, ever since, and they have refused to recognize Israel to this day. This resolution was the continuation of a political attack on Israel.

This decision by the UN will only encourage the Palestinian Arabs to continue their terrorism war against Israel and their refusal to recognize Israel. This decision further solidifies the view of the Jewish world that the UN is a biased institution against Israel and the Jewish people.

We applaud the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Panama, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palaufor joining Israel in opposing this resolution. These countries showed the courage to stand up for what is right and we want to express our appreciation to them. We further want to specifically laud President Obama for opposing this resolution and for his support for Israel and its right to defend itself in the latest conflict. We also want to thank Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an outspoken supporter and defender of Israel, who has once again stood together with the Jewish State."

The World Jewish Congress highlighted the irony of the situation, saying that it is “most ironic that this date, November 29th, was chosen for this egregious mistake on the part of the UN. On this same day, in 1947, the UN approved the partition plan, granting the Jewish people and the Arabs each a state. The results are well known- the Jewish people accepted it, and the Arabs did not, electing instead to go to war.”

“…Today’s vote in the United Nations does nothing to lead to a genuine and lasting peace in the Middle East, between the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples. Instead, it undermines this much-desired goal by contradicting its own UN resolutions, those that mandate resolving this conflict through direct negotiations between the parties,” added the WJC. “The designation of a Palestinian non-member observer state creates an illusion that will ultimately deeply disappoint the Palestinian people by raising unrealistic expectations.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations stated that the outcome of the vote “will leave no victors but certainly a primary loser, peace in the Middle East.”

“This maneuver’s sole purpose is to bypass direct negotiations with Israel with the attempt to achieve through the UNGA vote recognition that will, in fact, not change anything on the ground for the Palestinian people, but will dim the prospect for peace,” the organization maintained. “It is regrettable that nations that profess a commitment to a two state solution and direct negotiations would support a measure that diminishes both. Additionally, many countries may come to regret the precedent set today, the result of which will be that parties in other disputed areas will bypass peaceful resolution by coming to the General Assembly.”

Agudath Israel summed up the  move:

The declarations of Hamas, the Palestinian government of Gaza, that Israel must be destroyed, the countless rockets that have underscored that intent, and the cheering on of the same by Arab residents of the West Bank make a much greater historical noise than the craven “aye”s of the 138 representatives of nations who voted yesterday to change the status of “Palestine.”

Agudath Israel of America applauds our government and the governments of Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau on their principled stances in yesterday’s United Nations General Assembly vote on the status of “Palestine.”

May we soon see the day when the other nations of the world recognize that there is only one path to peace for Israel and the Arab population in its midst, and that, at present, only one of those parties has its hands outstretched to the other."