Published On: Sat, Dec 1st, 2012

CARICOM votes to upgrade Palestinian UN status

NEW YORK, USA -- Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states, with the exception of The Bahamas and Barbados, voted in unison to support UN Resolution 67/19 that granted observer status to the State of Palestine at the United Nations on Thursday, which is similar to the status of the Holy See.

Two important CARICOM states, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, broke with traditional positions and supported the Palestinian vote for observer status at the UN. In the past they never explicitly supported Palestinian statehood and have abstained on the issue.

The United Nations voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to recognize the State of Palestine. More than two-thirds of the world body's 193 member states approved the resolution to upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer state. It passed 138-9, with 41 abstentions. Joining the United States in voting no was Canada, Czech Republic, Panama and a few other Pacific Island states.

Five CARICOM member states, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize and Grenada, co-sponsored the resolution. Prior to the actual vote, Belize, Grenada and Suriname added their names as co-sponsors of the resolution.

Since 1975 Guyana has been a member of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the first Caribbean country to recognise Palestine as a state.

And since coming to office two years ago, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse has solidified ties with non-aligned nations, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Arab, African and Asian bloc of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and has been an advocate of Palestinian statehood.

“Suriname and Guyana through CARICOM and in their recent role as chair respectively of the second and third committee have supported a united CARICOM position,” said Suriname’s Ambassador’s to the United Nations, Henry MacDonald.

A lot of behind the scenes lobbying to have a unified CARICOM position on the Palestine upgrade resolution by Suriname and Guyana took place at CARICOM and at the UN.

Haiti, as expected, like Colombia abstained, but Paraguay’s abstention was a surprise after Paraguay had recognized the Palestinian state a few years ago. The change of government in Paraguay more recently could account for this move.

While this UN move is merely symbolic, it will allow Palestine to join international organisations such as the International Criminal Court, where Palestine can bring charges against Israel’s occupation, and expansion of settlements in the West Bank. As well, some assert, it will give the Palestinians more leverage to negotiate with Israel.

According to MacDonald, “The new status will also allow Palestine to get access to international financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.”

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

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