UN shifts power to ‘State of Palestine,’ enabling it to head biggest bloc

The U.N. General Assembly boosted the rights of the “State of Palestine,” granting it the ability to lead the Group of 77, the largest bloc of developing countries.

By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff

The U.N. General Assembly nearly unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that will enable the Palestinians to chair the biggest group of developing countries at the U.N. in 2019, ignoring objections from the U.S. and Israel.

The resolution that temporarily grants the “State of Palestine” additional rights was approved by 146 states. Only three countries, the U.S., Australia and Israel, opposed it.

Palestinian representative at the U.N. Riyad Mansour, hailed the vote as a “new political victory.”

Mansour told Voice of Palestine radio that it “confirms the international community’s confidence in the State of Palestine,” entrusting it with leadership of 134 countries and the ability to “negotiate about 70 percent of the U.N. agenda issues that are of concern to humanity.”

The Group of 77, which includes China, accounts for 80 percent of the world’s population and roughly two-thirds of all U.N. member states.

As head of the Group of 77, a tenure that begins in January, Palestinian delegates will have additional powers, including the ability to raise procedural motions and co-sponsor proposals and amendments.

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The decision to give Palestine the group’s chairmanship was made last month by world leaders in a bid to boost the Palestinian  push for statehood.

U.S. opposition

U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen had urged the assembly on Tuesday to vote “no” on the resolution saying, “we cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations.”

The General Assembly disregarded U.S. and Israeli opposition. Most Western European countries supported the measure while many East European countries abstained.

Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Noa Furman said the resolution “clearly weakens and undermines the U.N.”

Despite claims that the resolution is technical in nature, the document gives the Palestinians rights beyond what is necessary to preside over the G77, she charged, accusing Ramallah of a “pattern of manipulative behavior,” she said, according to The Times of Israel.