The World Has Spoken

Article excerpt

The U.N. General Assembly has now voted, by 138 votes to 9, with 41 abstentions and 5 no-shows, to recognize the existence as a state "of the State of Palestine on the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967."

The "no" votes were cast by Israel, the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

The Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau, all former components of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, are "freely associated states" of the United States, with U.S. zip/postal codes and "Compacts of Free Association" which require them to be guided by the United States in their foreign relations. They more closely resemble territories of the United States than genuine sovereign states-rather like the Cook Islands and Niue, "freely associated states" of New Zealand which make no claim to sovereign statehood and are not U.N. member states. They sneaked into the U.N. in the flood of new members consequent upon the dissolutions of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, when the previous standards for admission were effectively ignored.

Nauru, a tiny island of 10,000 people in the central Pacific, has, since the exhaustion of the phosphate deposits which briefly made it the country with the world's highest per capita income, had virtually no sources of income other than marketing its U.N. votes (reliably joining the United States in voting against Palestine) and diplomatic recognitions (joining Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela in recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and housing in tents aspiring illegal immigrants who had been hoping to reach Australia. It is a sad place, an island with no beaches, the world's highest obesity rate and no real alternative to diplomatic prostitution.

Accordingly, only three "real" states joined Israel and the United States in voting against Palestine and the two-state solution: Canada, the Czech Republic and Panama. They must make their own excuses.

In population terms, the opponents of Palestine represent approximately 5 percent of the world's population-370 million out of more than 7 billion-and, of those, the United States accounts for 314 million. It follows that countries with less than 1 percent of the world's population supported the United States in this vote.

The 41 states abstaining in the vote were Albania, Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo (DRC), Croatia, Estonia, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Togo, Tonga, the United Kingdom and Vanuatu.

It is worth noting (and a bit puzzling) that 15 of these states (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Congo (DRC), Hungary, Malawi, Mongolia, Montenegro, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Togo and Vanuatu) have extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine, although most of the formerly communist states of eastern Europe did so when they had communist governments.

They have been more than balanced out by the 28 states which have not yet recognized the State of Palestine but which voted in favor of Palestine: Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Eritrea, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago and Tuvalu. The Japanese and Mexican votes in favor of Palestine mean that 18 of the 20 most populous states (all except the United States and Germany) voted in favor of Palestine.

Five states did not vote: Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar and Ukraine. Kiribati is no surprise. For economic reasons, it is the only U.N. member state which does not maintain a permanent mission in New York. …