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UN security council supports state of Palestine for first time
14 March 2002
America won near-universal applause yesterday for its surprise role in getting the UN Security Council to approve its first resolution bearing an explicit reference to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The text, approved after a flurry of diplomacy in the corridors of the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday night, called for an end to the fighting in the Middle East. A reference to Palestinian statehood and the fact that Washington had encouraged its inclusion was what was being hailed. "It's the first time the Security Council spells out the vision of two states," said Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian UN representative.
Observers noted that Washington had changed its stance at the UN as it campaigns for Arab support for military action to topple Saddam Hussein.
For years, America routinely blocked any resolutions addressing Palestinian statehood. With Vice-President Dick Cheney already in the region and President George Bush's Middle East envoy, Anthony Zinni, arriving today, the US hopes to defuse Arab anger as it prepares for military action against Iraq.
The resolution "demands immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction". In the preamble it cites the council "affirming a vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognised borders".
In a final vote, the resolution was passed by 14 to zero, with Syria, which called the text too "weak", abstaining. Syria had submitted a draft of its own earlier in the day.
David Usborne, in New York