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UN Prepares For Vote On Palestinian Status

Thousands of cheering Palestinians welcome their president, Mahmud Abbas, outside his Ramallah headquarters on September 25, 2011, as he returned from delivering a historic UN membership bid.
With the UN General Assembly set to meet on November 29 to vote on upgrading the status for the Palestinian Authority, many governments around the world have indicated how they will vote.

Israel has already said it will vote against the Palestinian bid for an upgrade from "observer" to "nonmember" status.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said on November 28 that only direct negotiations will push the peace process further.

"This Palestinian move at the United Nations won't solve anything. Maybe it will produce pieces of diplomatic paper, but it's not going to change anything on the ground," Regev said.

"The only way to make life better for both Israelis and Palestinians, to solve the issues that separate us is through peace talks, direct peace talks, and we are ready," he continued.

"I frankly don't understand how the Palestinians expect to make peace if they refuse to talk to us? Only through direct peace talks can we solve the issues and make a better future."

The United States will also vote against the measure as State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made clear at a press briefing on November 28, saying: "We intend to vote no.... We think this is a mistake."

Palestinian Liberation Organization member Hanan Ashrawi said the United States and Israel were making a mistake by not voting in favor of the Palestinian status upgrade.

"We are moving ahead. Israel, the U.S., and a handful of countries will find themselves on the wrong side of morality, on the wrong side of justice and on the wrong side of the law," Ashrawi said.

"And we are very pleased to say that tomorrow midnight probably at our time you will see a [UN General Assembly] vote that will begin a process of historical redemption and healing in Palestine."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said on November 28 that Berlin would also vote against the upgrade.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his country would likely abstain and he added that in order for Britain to back such a measure there would have to be tied to efforts for resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

"While there is no question of the United Kingdom voting against the resolution, in order to vote for it we would need certain assurances or amendments," Hague said.

"The first is that the Palestinian Authority should indicate a clear commitment to return immediately to negotiations without preconditions. This is the essential answer to the charge that by moving the resolution the Palestinians are taking a path away from negotiations."

But government representatives in France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Turkey, and Switzerland said they would vote in favor of the Palestinian bid.

Russia and China have also indicated they will back the Palestinian status upgrade.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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