Rice Riled by Palestine Placard

Photograph by Saif Sahlah/AFP via Getty Images

Palestinians wave national flags during a gathering in the West Bank city of Jenin on Nov. 29, 2012 to support Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas who is heading to the United Nations General Assembly today with huge backing for his bid for UN recognition of statehood.

Just because a United Nations name plate calls you a state, that doesn’t make you one.

Still, at the world body, any entity, state or non-state can name itself.

Following a largely symbolic vote in the UN’s 193-member General Assembly, the Palestinians changed their name to “State of Palestine” on all their stationery and asked UN protocol to go along with that. The UN’s etiquette office agreed on Dec. 17: “Pursuant to your request, the designation of `State of Palestine’ shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents.”

The Americans were not pleased. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice today took exception to the rebranding, even if it’s confined to the 17 acres occupied by the world body in New York’s Midtown:

“Any reference to the `State of Palestine’ in the United Nations, including the use of the term `State of Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term `State of Palestine’ in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that `Palestine’ is a state.”

The Palestinians were quick to respond.

“It doesn’t matter if any country voted against” the designation,’ said Riad Malki, introduced at a Security Council meeting on the Palestinian question as foreign minister to the State of Palestine. `We expect all member states of the United Nations to respect, to adhere, the decision that was taken by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 29th of November of 2012.”

Nine nations voted against this: the U.S., Israel, Canada, Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.


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