The United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly has voted by an overwhelming margin to recognize the Palestinian National Authority as a ‘non-member observer state,’ essentially granting it recognition as a sovereign, independent country. Previously the U.N. had recognized the Palestinian government only as a ‘non-member observer entity.’
The General Assembly is a body in which all U.N. member nations are equally represented. It is responsible for managing the U.N. budget, appointing non-permanent members to the U.N. Security Council, and passing resolutions that are, essentially, non-binding recommendations. Only the Security Council has authority to pass binding resolutions which may be enforced with military action.
138 General Assembly delegates voted to recognize Palestine, nine voted against, and forty-one abstained. The United States and Israel both opposed the Palestinian recognition bid, despite ostensibly supporting Palestinian statehood and a ‘two-state solution’ to the middle east conflict.
Although this General Assembly resolution is not binding, it does mark an important symbolic victory for the Palestinian National Authority, especially considering the overwhelming margin of votes in favor of recognition. It is, however, unclear what action the U.N. will now take regarding the Palestinian government’s continuing support of terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, which is a serious violation of the norms of international relations between states.