Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith has welcomed the overwhelmingly positive vote in the UN General Assembly on upgrading the status of Palestine to a non-member Observer State in the UN. This will allow Palestine to join UN organisations, and marks an important step towards sparking the peace process back into life.

Commenting on the vote Deputy Smith said, “Like so many people here in Ireland and across the World I have been shocked at the violence in Gaza over the past few weeks. There is an urgent need for progress in the peace process to avoid such terrible bloodshed into the future.

“I raised the issue in the Dáil this week, calling on the Tánaiste to ramp up EU efforts on funding a path towards a sustainable peace settlement between Israel and Palestine. The UN vote is primarily symbolic, but it’s an important step in recognising the legitimate Palestinian claims to statehood.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently called for a two state solution and Ireland led the way by becoming the first Western European state to call for two states in the troubled region. The late Brian Lenihan Senior was the first Western European Foreign Affairs Minister to sign the Bahrain Declaration in 1980 setting out the basis for a solution that would later help form the Oslo Accord. The UN vote is a fresh impetus to re-igniting the peace process in this troubled region,” said Deputy Smith.

Ireland was one of 138 members of the assembly, including many EU states, Russia, China, India and Brazil who voted in favour of recognising the Palestinians as a non-member observer state. The US and Israel opposed while the UK and Germany abstained.