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‘New Palestine status to help move peace talks forward’ – Russia’s UN envoy

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

UN move to upgrade Palestinians’ diplomatic status is a strong gesture of support to the Palestinians which could help end the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told RT.

On Thursday the UN General Assembly voted for a resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic status to a “non-member observer state,” thus implicitly recognizing a Palestinian state. The Palestinian bid for statehood has been upheld with 138 votes in favor, 9 against and 41 abstentions.

“It’s a major step for the Palestinians, a great success for [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas,” Vitaly Churkin said.

“We believe that the challenge now is to channel this important development constructively,” he stressed, noting that the vote “wasn’t without acrimony,” as the Israelis expressed their dissatisfaction with the resolution and some countries led by the United States voted against it.

“Before the vote as we were leading to this important day we’ve heard threats against the Palestinians in various forms of retaliation from Israel and the United States, [and] some countries from the European Union,” he said.

“We think that it would be very wrong if this vote were to turn or somebody were to try to turn it into further confrontation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We think it’s very important to make sure that it can be used as a stepping stone for restarting the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

In fact, Russia voted for the resolution on the basis of assurances from the Palestinians that resuming talks is what they are going to try to do, Churkin added.

“Abbas emphasized that he did not see this move as a way to delegitimize Israel, and another assurance which we received from the Palestinian leaders is that they are not going to use this vote in order to try to isolate Israel.”

Even though the recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a “non-member observer state” is not going to change the lives of the Palestinians overnight, it is a strong gesture of support from the international community that could help them enter into the negotiations with Israel towards final settlement.

“It’s clear that this resolution on its own is not sufficient in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bilateral negotiations are necessary. It is important to satisfy in the course of those negotiations the concerns of the Israelis about their security, it’s important to settle the border issue on the basis, we believe, of 1967 lines – and they were mentioned again in the resolution that was adopted today. There is still a very long road ahead,” Churkin stressed.

The international community is fed up with the conflict, he said. “Countries in the United Nations believe that dramatic steps need to be taken in order to have this conflict resolved.”

After 65 years of waiting it’s high time to have the Israeli-Palestinian conflict settled.”

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