UN approves resolution enabling Palestinians to chair group

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that will enable the Palestinians to chair the major group of developing countries at the United Nations in 2019, ignoring objections from the United States and Israel.

Egypt, the current chair of the so-called Group of 77, told the assembly before the vote that because the Palestinians are from a non-member observer state at the U.N., a resolution is required to give it “the rights and capacity required” to head the 135-nation group that includes China.

During last month’s meeting of world leaders at the 193-member General Assembly, members of the G77 formalized their decision to give Palestinians the chair, in a boost to President Mahmoud Abbas’ push for statehood and full U.N. membership.

U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen 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.”

He said the U.S. doesn’t recognize “a Palestinian state” and “if this misguided resolution is adopted,” when the Palestinians speak as chair of the G77 the U.S. will remind U.N. members that “no such state has been admitted as a U.N. member state.”

But the assembly disregarded U.S. and Israeli opposition and voted 146-3 with 15 abstentions to approve the resolution. Australia was the only other country to vote against the resolution. Most Western European countries supported the measure while many East European countries abstained.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said after the vote that Palestinians “will spare no effort to prove worthy of this trust” and defend G-77 interests while also engaging “with all partners — I repeat with all partners — in order to advance cooperation and mutually beneficial agreements for the common good of humanity.”

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