World

United Nations General Assembly votes to allow Palestinians to act more like full member state

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to allow the Palestinians to act more like a full UN member state during meetings in 2019 when they will chair the group of 77 developing nations.

Israel, the U.S. and Australia voted against the resolution. Canada abstained

The UN General Assembly voted to allow the Palestinians to procedurally act like a member state during meetings next year when they will chair the group of 77 developing nations. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly has voted to allow the Palestinians to act more like a full U.N. member state during meetings in 2019 when they will chair the group of 77 developing nations.

The United States, Israel and Australia voted against the move, which won 146 votes in favour. Canada and 14 other countries abstained and 29 didn't vote. 

"We cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations. The United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state," U.S. Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the General Assembly.

Israel, the U.S. and Australia voted against the resolution. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The Palestinians want to establish a state encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Middle East war.

"We strongly oppose the Palestinians' election as chair of the G77 as well as this so-called enabling resolution," he said. "Only UN member states should be entitled to speak and act on behalf of major groups of states at the United Nations."

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's UN observer status to non-member state —  the same as the Vatican —  from entity.

The status upgrade has allowed them to participate in some General Assembly votes and join some international bodies. However, as a non-member state the Palestinians cannot speak in meetings until after member states, diplomats said.

The Egyptian-drafted resolution allows them to procedurally operate like a member state when acting on behalf of the G77 and China — making statements, submitting and co-sponsoring proposals and amendments, giving rights of reply and raising points of order.

"Australia's decision to vote no on this resolution reflects our long-standing position that Palestinian attempts to seek recognition as a state in international fora are deeply unhelpful to efforts toward a two-state solution," Australian UN Ambassador Gillian Bird told the General Assembly.

With files from CBC News

now