Jerusalem: Israeli officials Wednesday hailed the UN Security Council`s rejection of a Palestinian statehood bid the night before, thanking countries for voting against it and saying unilateral moves only push peace further away.
The Palestinians needed nine votes in order for the Security Council to adopt the resolution. Eight member states voted in favour of the resolution, two voted against it, while five others abstained.
The US and Australia voted against the resolution late Tuesday. France and Luxembourg, among others, voted in favour of the resolution, while Britain, Lithuania, South Korea, Rwanda and Nigeria abstained, Xinhua reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters Wednesday morning, prior to voting in his party`s internal elections, he appreciated the votes against the resolution cast by the US and Australia, and thanked the African states of Nigeria and Rwanda for abstaining.
"I want to express appreciation and gratitude to the United States and Australia, as well as special appreciation to the President of Rwanda, my friend Paul Kagame, and the President of Nigeria, my friend Goodluck Jonathan," Netanyahu told reporters Wednesday.
"I spoke with them last night and they personally promised me not to support this decision, which tipped the scales," he added.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement Wednesday that the vote should show the Palestinians that unilateral moves would not resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The failure of the Palestinian resolution must teach the Palestinians that provocation and attempts to impose unilateral measures on Israel will not achieve anything -- to the contrary," Lieberman said, according to a statement from the foreign ministry.
"The Palestinians` contempt for the most important states in the international community, first and foremost the United States, stems in part from the support they enjoy from European states," Lieberman said, possibly referring to the support the bid got from France and Luxembourg.
"Every state that truly wishes to promote a solution to the conflict must behave responsibly and make it clear to the Palestinians that decisions are made only around a negotiating table," he added.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya`alon also commented on the vote, and said the move by the Palestinian Authority proves that "there`s no interest (among the Palestinians) in direct negotiations, but rather provocations and continued acts aimed at delegitimising Israel," the Ha`aretz daily quoted him as saying.
The resolution presented by the Palestinian Authority to the UN Security Council called for a comprehensive Israeli withdrawal from lands it had occupied and annexed in the 1967 Mideast War by the end of 2017 along with the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Jordan`s Ambassador to the UN Dina Kawar, who presented the resolution, said that the Palestinian Authority would push in other diplomatic ways to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian leaders are set to decide their next steps Wednesday.
One possibility is that the Palestinian Authority would seek to join the International Criminal Court and try Israeli officials for war crimes over the ongoing occupation.
US-mediated negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed in April after nine months as Israel suspended the talks amid the establishment of the Palestinian national unity government with Hamas, against which Israel fought for two months in the summer.
Following the collapse of the talks, and amid the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested to join several international treaties and advance diplomatic moves to end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state.
Israel`s settlement expansion policy, as well as a deteriorating security situation and the last Gaza War, have increased criticism towards it.
Several European countries have recently announced their support for a Palestinian statehood bid - including Sweden, France, Britain, Spain and Ireland -- further isolating Israel from the international community.