Venezuela and Palestine to Strengthen Relations after Landmark U.N. Vote
by Ewan Robertson
Venezuela will be the first country to receive an official Palestinian delegation after the Middle-eastern country was recognised by the United Nations as a non-member observer state yesterday.
The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to grant Palestine’s request for observer state status, with 138 in favour, 9 against and 41 abstentions. Israel and the United States were among those who voted against the resolution.
In his address to the UN General Assembly, Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Jorge Valero, voiced his country’s strong support for the resolution and for full Palestinian statehood.
The Venezuelan ambassador also criticised Israel’s policies towards Palestine, stating that “the Bolivarian government and the people of Venezuela have condemned the state of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people”.
He further decried Israeli “state terrorism” against the Palestinians, slamming Israel as an “Occupying power...[that] violates international human rights law, [and] fails to comply with hundreds of UN resolutions, putting it at the margin of international law”.
Valero urged the UN General Assembly that “the warmongering Israeli elite must therefore be held to account for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian people”.
He then concluded his intervention by declaring “long live the free and sovereign Palestinian people!”
The UN vote comes just a week after the end of Israel’s latest military assault on Palestine’s Gaza Strip, which left 162 Palestinians and 5 Israelis dead. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez publicly condemned the attacks as “savage” at the time.
Alongside the Venezuelan government, the Venezuelan delegation to the Latin American Parliament also celebrated the result of yesterday’s UN vote, expressing it’s “most profound satisfaction” with Palestine’s achievement of its new diplomatic status.
Following yesterday’s landmark UN vote, a top-level Palestinian delegation is to travel to Venezuela to strengthen relations between the two countries.
The Palestinian ambassador to Venezuela, Farid Suwwan, confirmed today that the delegation will arrive this Sunday, and that the two nations are expected to agree on up to eight new accords in the areas of health, education, tourism, culture and sport.
“Relations between Venezuela and Palestine have never been as good as they are now…the first official delegation that the Palestinian state sends to another nation is going to be Venezuela and it’s going to be a big delegation; five ministers, three vice ministers and two secretary-generals of state,” said Suwwan in an interview with Venezuelan state channel VTV.
The diplomat added that existing agreements between Venezuela and Palestine will also be strengthened, including scholarship programs for Palestinians to study in Venezuela. The summit will look at implementing agreements “with a permanent work mechanism throughout the year,” he said.
Venezuela established diplomatic relations with Palestine in April 2009, after severing relations with Israel in reaction to its January 2009 assault of the Gaza Strip.
In a meeting between President Hugo Chavez and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in October last year, Venezuela agreed on a variety of accords to support Palestine, including building medical facilities and supporting sustainable urban agriculture in the Middle Eastern territory.