NZ votes to recognise Palestinian state
New Zealand has voted in favour of a United Nations resolution recognising a state of Palestine.
The UN General Assembly today overwhelmingly voted to grant Palestinians "non-member state" UN observer status.
The resolution upgrading the Palestinians' status to a nonmember observer state at the United Nations was approved by the 193-member world body today by a vote of 138-9 with 41 abstentions.
Foreign Affairs Minister McCully confirmed the decision just hours before the historic vote.
New Zealand has been grappling with the implications of voting in favour of a resolution which the United States and Israel strongly oppose.
McCully said a UN resolution is "a poor substitute for direct negotiations between the two parties".
But voting in favour of the resolution reflects the long-standing policy of the New Zealand Government.
In a statement, McCully said: "New Zealand is a long-standing supporter of the two state solution. We believe that Israel and a Palestinian state should exist side by side, each respecting the other's right to peace. And we believe that they should arrive at that conclusion through direct talks.
"As I stated in my address to the UN General Assembly earlier this year, we have never regarded a UN resolution as an adequate substitute for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That is the only way of achieving a durable solution to this question.
"We remain frustrated that two leaders who live half an hour up the road from each other cannot meet to resolve these matters directly.
"I said earlier this year that in the absence of any other process for taking this matter forward we would be open to voting for a resolution in the United Nations that reflected our commitment to the two state solution, provided it was expressed in moderate and constructive terms.
"We have discussed the proposed text of the resolution with Palestinian representatives over recent weeks and they have delivered a resolution that is moderate, constructive, and reflects our commitment to a two-state solution. We will therefore vote for it.
"In our explanation of vote to the UN our Permanent Representative Hon Jim McLay will make clear our absolute commitment to Israel's right to safety and security, and condemn the actions of Hamas extremists in recent weeks.
"However, we will also assert our support for the moderate leadership of [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas, [Palestinian Authority] Prime Minister Fayyad and others who are working to make a two-state solution a viable goal.
"The New Zealand Government is under no illusions as to the utility of a UN resolution. It will solve nothing. But in the absence of the direct talks we have called for, we will deal with the UN resolution on its merits. That means we will vote in favour of the resolution before the General Assembly this morning," McCully said.