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Massive support for Palestine

PALESTINE received an overwhelming show of support in Bahrain yesterday.

This came just hours before the UN recognised a sovereign state of Palestine for the first time, as it overwhelmingly ignored dire warnings from the US and Israel that the decision would wreck peace talks and lead to the severance of badly needed aid funding.

His Majesty King Hamad personally led the country by affirming Bahrain's support for the Palestinian people in their struggle to restore their inalienable historic rights.

Government officials, businessmen and diplomats from at least 20 countries also gathered in a major show of solidarity ahead of the vote at the General Assembly in New York.

An historic resolution that changed the Palestinian Authority's position at the UN from observer to "non-member state", a status also held by the Vatican, passed the 193-nation General Assembly by a resounding 138 to 9, with 41 countries abstaining, including Britain.

The public gallery erupted into cheers and applause as the vote came through, with a shout of "Long live Palestine" filling the assembly.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, who led the campaign to win support for the resolution, ignored last minute entreaties to abandon the bid from Washington, whose isolation grew as the vote neared.

The US and Israel were joined by only a handful of other members in voting against what they said was a largely symbolic and counter-productive move.

Although a six-decade wait for Palestinian independence will not end immediately, thousands of Palestinians from rival factions gathered in the streets of the West Bank, seeing the vote as a major step in their quest for global recognition.

Earlier, Abbas had received a standing ovation from the General Assembly as he called upon other nations to issue a "birth certificate" to Palestine.

The US successfully blocked Palestine's attempts to become a full member of the UN last year, making it clear it would veto any such application through its seat on the Security Council. But after decades of trying, the country now has approval from the General Assembly, which means the US has no veto power.

"It has been 56 years since the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 181, proposing the partition of the mandate territory into two states," said UNIC director for Bahrain, Qatar and UAE Nejib Friji as he read out a speech from UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon at an event held at the UN House, Hoora.

"Achieving a two-state solution, to which both Israel and the Palestinians have committed, is long overdue."

Minister of State for Information Affairs Sameera Rajab said themove could pave the way for peace in the region.

"At least something will move forward as it is an issue that has stayed in the same place and has made a lot of disasters around the world.

"Peace needs to be the goal.

"We are fully supporting Palestine's resolution and we are all positive that a positive result will come out at the United Nations."

Palestinian Ambassador Taha Mahmood Abdul Kadir delivered a speech from Abbas.

Moroccan Ambassador Ahmed Rashid Khattabi also spoke on behalf of the pro-Palestine Al Quds Committee. ahmed@gdn.com.bh



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