Majority likely to vote for Palestinian upgrade

UN General Assembly vote to upgrade Palestinian status tomorrow

A large majority of the 193 member states of the United Nations are expected to vote in favor of an upgraded status for the Palestinians at the world body's General Assembly on Thursday.

Among the 'no' votes will figure those of Israel, and its key Western ally the United States, which is one of the five powerful permanent members of the UN Security Council. Germany has also said it will vote against the new status.

Russia and China, which also have permanent seats on the Security Council, have long stated that they will vote in favour of granting the Palestinian Authority the status of a 'non-member state'.

However attention is likely to focus on a handful of Western states, such as France, who have said they will favour the motion.

The other permanent Security Council member, Britain, said on Wednesday that it would abstain in the vote unless certain conditions, including the return of the Palestinians to peace talks and a promise by them to refrain from taking Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICC), were fulfilled.

Among other Western countries which have said recently that they will support the General Assembly motion are Austria, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said on Wednesday that a number of governments were seeking guarantees that if the Palestinians gained the new status, they would refrain from taking Israel before the ICC in the Hague.

Despite Britain's expected abstention, and opposition to the bid from nations including the United States and Germany, the Palestinians are expected to easily win approval at the 193-member General Assembly.

"We're going to have a vast majority, a vast majority, more than two-thirds," Ashrawi said.


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