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2012 World News: Israel and Palestinian State

UN Upgrades Palestinian Authority's Status


Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

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Violence Erupts Between Israel and Gaza

Throughout the fall of 2012, militant groups in Gaza fired rockets into Israel with increasing frequency. Israel responded in mid-November with one of its biggest attacks on the Gaza Strip since the 2008 invasion. The attack killed Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari. In the following days, Israel continued to target members of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, and Hamas launched several hundred rockets, with some hitting Tel Aviv. Egypt, while a staunch supporter of Hamas, attempted to broker a peace agreement between Hamas and Israel to prevent the conflict from further destabilizing the region. On Nov. 21, Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a cease-fire had been signed. Both sides agreed to end hostilities and Israel said it would open Gaza border crossings, allowing the flow of products and people into Gaza, and lifting the 5-year blockade that has caused much hardship to those living in the region.

On Nov. 29, the UN General Assembly approved an upgrade from the Palestinian Authority's current observer status to that of a non-member state. The vote came after Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the General Assembly and asked for a "birth certificate" for his country. Of the 193 nations in the General Assembly, 138 voted in favor of the upgrade in status. While the vote was a victory for Palestine, it was a diplomatic setback for the U.S. and Israel. Having the title of "non-member observer state" allows Palestine access to international organizations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). If it joins the ICC, Palestine could file complaints of war crimes against Israel.

In response to the UN vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would not transfer about $100 million in much-needed tax revenue owed to the struggling Palestinian Authority and would resume plans to build 3,000-unit settlement in an area that divides the north and the south parts of the West Bank, thereby denying the Palestinians any chance for having a contiguous state.

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