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UN votes on side of history

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November 2012 was a most eventful one, where voting in the United Nations General Assembly is concerned. Of particular significance are two votes, approved overwhelmingly by the general body, which reflect how world opinion has shifted and continues to shift in favour of justice. Those votes were on issues related to Cuba and Palestine, topics on which many in our midst continue to harbour archaic views and to be misled by the propaganda of others.{{more}}

On November 29, the General Assembly voted by 138 votes to nine, with 41 abstentions, to recognize the state of Palestine as a non-member observer state. This was in spite of strong opposition by the Government of the United States of America and a tiny few client states. These include some mini-states in the Pacific which, while nominally exercising sovereignty, are nothing but US puppet states.

It is useful to examine the vote. Besides the USA and Israel, the only other real states to vote against were Canada, the Czech Republic and Panama. The US aside, states representing less than one per cent of the world’s population, voted against recognising Palestine, a clear indication of how the tide of history has turned. Incidentally, the vote for Palestine came exactly 65 years to the day after the same General Assembly had voted in 1947 to divide Palestine, paving the way for the creation of the state of Israel.

The 41 states which abstained included three Caribbean states – Bahamas, Barbados and Haiti. Fifteen of these 41 already have diplomatic recognition of the Palestinian state. Another 27 states which voted for the recognition, have, however, themselves not formally recognized Palestine on a state-to-state level. Among these are the Caribbean nations of Jamaica, St Kitts/Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, which has already formally recognized the Palestinian state, voted in favour of the resolution, placing this country proudly among the ranks of the vast majority of the world’s peoples. Just for the sake of information, it is instructive to note that of the 27 member states of the European Union, staunch allies of the United States, 14 voted in favour, one against and there were 12 abstentions. Yet, there are those locally who are so blind and backward as to publicly criticize the current administration for supporting Palestine.

In spite of the overwhelming weight of world opinion, the Zionists in control of the state of Israel have again demonstrated their lack of respect either for world opinion or the rights of the Palestinian people. Fresh from their latest slaughter in Gaza, they have reacted to the UN vote by once again withholding taxes, which by agreement, should be turned over to the Palestinian Authority, which means that some 150,000 employees would not be paid. The Zionists have also announced plans to further carve up the Palestinian state by building 3,000 new Jewish settlements. It means that the journey from the holy city of Bethlehem to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian administration would then be 120 kilometres instead of the 25 kilometres at present. May we remember all these injustices when we talk, sing and pray about Bethlehem at Christmas time!

CALL TO END EMBARGO AGAINST CUBA

The second notable vote in the UN General Assembly had taken place some two weeks before the Palestinian vote. In what was an even more overwhelming expression of the voice of the international community, the Assembly voted by 188 votes to three (the USA and Israel being two of those opposed), to condemn the commercial, financial and economic blockade of Cuba by the Government of the USA.

This stifling embargo has been in force for more than a half a century. Since then the US has fought wars against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan; has come close to nuclear confrontation with its one-time “arch-enemy”, Russia, and had far from friendly exchanges with China. All these have been swept under the carpet today and there is no embargo against any of these nations. Not so, when it comes to Cuba; the embargo, a relic of cold-war days remains in place against a country less than 100 miles distant.

That outmoded thinking is what was condemned by the court of world opinion, the General Assembly. It was the 21st year in a row that the UN has called for an end to this embargo, with the numbers growing year by year. It is a call which the Obama administration should heed and those locally who harbour old prejudices and views stuck in the past would do well to wake up to the realities of life and peaceful coexistence between states.

Renwick Rose is a

community activist and

social commentator.

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