The Straits Times
Published on Nov 28, 2012

Australia to abstain from UN vote on Palestinians, dividing government


CANBERRA (AP) - Australia will abstain from a UN General Assembly vote on Palestinians becoming a non-member observer state in a decision that has divided its government and been condemned by the opposition party.

"The government's position balances our long-standing support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their own state with our concern that the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a statement on Tuesday announcing her stance.

The Palestinians said the General Assembly will vote on Thursday on a resolution raising their status at the United Nations from an observer to a nonmember observer state in a move they believe is an important step toward a two-state solution with Israel.

Ms Gillard said her center-left Labor Party government colleagues were divided. However, she has the power to decide Australia's position.