S’pore votes to support full UN membership for Palestine, among 143 countries to do so
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S’pore votes to support full UN membership for Palestine, among 143 countries to do so

Singapore votes in support of granting Palestine UN membership on 10 May

On Friday (10 May), Singapore voted in support of a United Nations (UN) resolution for the admission of Palestine as a UN member.

Source: United Nations on YouTube

Singapore is among 143 countries to do so. Meanwhile, nine countries — including the USA and Israel — opposed the resolution while another 25 abstained.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan explained that the decision came after “serious and careful consideration” and reflects Singapore’s desire for Israel and Palestine to take steps towards a two-state solution.

Singapore votes to support UN membership for Palestine

“We have always supported a negotiated two-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” said Dr Balakrishnan in a 13-minute long video posted on Friday (10 May).

Both Israel and Palestine have the right to exist and to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

He reiterated Singapore’s support for a two-state solution, referring to UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 242 and 338 which called for the withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces from occupied territories in the Six-Day War.

Both resolutions, Dr Balakrishnan said, continue to undergird Singapore’s support for a negotiated two-state settlement consistent with relevant UNSC resolutions.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs on YouTube

“In this context of a two-state solution, we support the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

Singapore’s support of Palestinian Authority over the years

Dr Balakrishnan also referenced the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) position, which allowed the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995 to be reached.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs on YouTube

“It led to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority and an interim arrangement for governance of the West Bank and Gaza,” he said. “Even though we understood that the negotiations would be very challenging, there was some promise for progress towards a two-state solution.”

“Unfortunately, developments in the three decades since the Oslo Accords have failed to bring us any closer to a resolution of this longstanding conflict.”

Regardless, Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore has continued to support the Palestinian Authority (PA) in preparation for statehood.

This includes providing S$10 million for capacity-building programmes and training over 700 Palestinian officials since 2013.

Peace process has stalled with casualties on both sides

However, Dr Balakrishnan pointed out that “prospects for peace” between both sides have become “even bleaker”, with negotiations for a two-state solution having reached a standstill.

“Extremist views have gained ground on both sides,” he added. “Public support on both sides for the two-state solution has diminished. The illegal building of settlements in the West Bank has continued unabated.”

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs on YouTube

Dr Balakrishnan noted that the request to reconsider Palestine’s application for UN membership comes months after Hamas’ attacks last October and Israel’s military actions in the months that followed.

“The result of these events has been outrage on both sides, a breakdown of the fragile trust between both peoples, and the shattering of any sense of security for both Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

UN membership for Palestine vital for restarting diplomatic efforts

Dr Balakrishnan stated that Palestine’s UN membership should, under ideal circumstances, be considered when hostilities have ended and all civilian hostages are freed.

“But frankly, we are now so far from those conditions,” he said.

“Singapore and many other countries had to consider how our vote today would help lay the groundwork for an end to hostilities that would hopefully lead to an enduring peace.”

He cited this as a reason for Singapore’s vote to back the UN General Assembly resolution to admit Palestine into the UN:

As a friend of both Israel and Palestine, we in Singapore are deeply grieved by this state of affairs.

“Singapore’s vote reflects our heartfelt desire to see both parties resume direct face to face negotiations in good faith,” he said. “At this time of darkness, the status quo is not enough, and we need a reset, a restart of diplomatic efforts.”

Urged both sides to return to negotiating table

Dr Balakrishnan took the opportunity to reiterate Singapore’s tough stance towards terrorism:

Groups, including Hamas, that continue to deny Israel’s existence or refuse to renounce terrorism have no place in a future Palestinian state.

“For these reasons, Singapore will not work with any Palestinian group, including Hamas, that denies Israel’s right to exist or refuses to renounce terrorism against it,” he said.

Dr Balakrishnan concluded his statement by calling on Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table for a two-state solution.

“As a friend of both Israel and Palestine, we urge both sides to avoid violence, to reject violence and to resume negotiations towards a two-state solution with the help and the support of the international community,” he said. “All Singaporeans wish for peace to be upon our friends in Israel and Palestine.”

Also read: Israeli ambassador apologised for Palestine Facebook post & officer responsible to be sent home

Israeli ambassador apologised for Palestine Facebook post & officer responsible to be sent home

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Featured image adapted from United Nations on YouTube.  

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