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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Palestinian State Gets Recognition From UN

UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council approved a resolution endorsing a Palestinian state for the first time and calling for an immediate cease-fire in the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The resolution, the first the United States has introduced since the latest bloodshed began in September 2000, was approved Tuesday night, winning support from 14 of the 15 council members. Syria abstained. Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian UN observer, called the resolution "a significant step" and said "the Palestinian side will reiterate its readiness to abide by the provisions." Israel's UN ambassador, Yehuda Lancry, called it "a rare and remarkable" balanced resolution and said his government would like a cease-fire.

Diplomats said the timing was important: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is in the Mideast; U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni is coming; the violence appears to be spiraling out of control, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued his toughest statement ever Tuesday, calling on both sides to avert disaster.

After years of blocking UN Mideast resolutions that it considered biased against its close ally, Israel, the United States surprised the council by suddenly taking the initiative and introducing a resolution that it believed was balanced and could advance the moribund peace process. Acting with unusual speed, the often-divided council voted 14-0 just before midnight Tuesday to approve the resolution, with only Syria abstaining. It had introduced a Palestinian-backed resolution earlier in the day that was never put to a vote.

Mikhail Wehbe, the Syrian ambassador, called the U.S. resolution "very weak" and complained that it did not address the root cause of the conflict, Israel's occupation, and "treats the killer and victim on equal footing."

The United States has repeatedly opposed Security Council action, arguing that only Israel and the Palestinians can resolve the issues dividing them

"Our intent in doing this was to give an impulse to peace efforts and to decry violence and terror," said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte.

But Al-Kidwa said it marked the first time in a long time that the United States had displayed "such a positive attitude ... toward the principle of the engagement by the council in Middle Eastern affairs."

The resolution "demands immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction." It calls on the Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate in implementing steps leading to a resumption of negotiations on a political settlement.

In a statement added after late-night negotiations, it affirms for the first time in a council resolution "a vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side-by-side within secure and recognized borders.

U.S. President George W. Bush endorsed a Palestinian state at last November's UN General Assembly session.

Previous Security Council resolutions dealing with Mideast peace have not explicitly referred to a Palestinian state because the issue was too contentious.

In Jerusalem on Wednesday, an Italian freelance photographer was killed by Israeli tank fire in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinian hospital officials and witnesses said.

A witness to the shooting, fellow journalist Amedeo Ricucci, said he and Raffaele Ciriello, 42, were following Palestinian gunmen through the center of Ramallah when the Israeli tank appeared from around the corner. He said soldiers on the tank fired a machine gun without warning, hitting Ciriello in the stomach.