Westerwelle: Germany to abstain in UN Palestine vote | News | DW | 29.11.2012
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Westerwelle: Germany to abstain in UN Palestine vote

Germany plans to abstain during Thursday's vote at the UN General Assembly on the Palestinians' diplomatic status. German Foreign Minister Westerwelle said the expected UN endorsement would run counter to peace efforts.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced on Thursday in Berlin that Germany would abstain from the scheduled vote later in the day at the UN General Assembly to decide if Palestine is given non-member status.

"From our perspective there are doubts about whether this step [to call for the vote] by the Palestinians serves the peace process at the current time," Westerwelle said. "We think that this could make matters worse."

Germany, he said, was for a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.

Approval almost certain

Increasing support for the Palestinians appeared certain to give them approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly for a status upgrade to "observer state."

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Palestinian UN bid

Switzerland, Denmark and Austria said they would vote for the upgrade. France gave its approval on Tuesday and Britain said it would not oppose the move but needed more assurances to give its support.

The United States reiterated its opposition toward the UN vote. Direct negotiations with Israel would be "the only way to get a lasting solution," that would help Palestinians achieve statehood, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

A Palestinian bid for full membership status was thwarted by opposition from the US in the UN Security Council last year.

Non-member state

The new status, which is to being sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, would recognize Palestinian statehood without granting Palestinians any voting rights at the UN. The only current observer state, the Vatican, is classed by the UN as a non-member state.

Recognition would, however, grant Palestinians access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they could file complaints against Israel.

Talks however have been stalled for two years, mainly over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have expanded despite being deemed illegal by most of the world.

mz/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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