Bolstered by their success in the recent war in Gaza, the Hamas and it ally, the Islamic Jihad, have joined their known rivals, Fatah, in welcoming the U.N. General Assembly vote that has established Palestine as a non-member observer state. This upbeat Palestinian mood contrasted sharply with the thickening air of pessimism in Israel.
On Thursday, the General Assembly voted emphatically to welcome Palestine as an observer state. The resounding accomplishment of the Palestinians was underscored by the voting pattern: 138 states, including BRICS grouping — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — voting in favour, and 41 nations deciding to abstain.
The Palestinians can now participate in General Assembly debates, and in future, haul Israel into the International Criminal Court on possible charges of war crimes.
There was a wave of tumultuous celebrations in the Palestinain territories. On Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hogged the limelight at the General Assembly.
The celebrations that spilled into the night were, nevertheless, unable to paper over the grim power struggle for Palestinian leadership between the Hamas and the Fatah.
With its credentials as representative of Palestinians refurbished after the Gaza war, the Hamas on Friday tried to appropriate credit for the Palestinian success. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh asserted in his stronghold in Gaza that the U.N. vote was the culmination of the victory achieved in the coastal strip, and an affirmation of Palestinian steadfastness — a position that did not seem to give much credit to the Fatah and Mr. Abbas for the achievement.
Israel responded negatively to the U.N. vote. Government spokesman Mark Regev called the Palestinian move “political theatre that takes us out of a negotiating process”.