The United Nations' vote to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state is a huge step forward. The world stated loud and clear that the occupation of the Palestinians' land and the denial of citizenship and nationality to them is unacceptable.
Although the vote doesn't change anything on the ground, it means that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can now negotiate as the head of a recognized state. It bolsters Palestinians who want a diplomatic and peaceful path to statehood rather than a violent one.
Israelis and Palestinians should now earnestly negotiate a two-state agreement based on the 1967 borders. President Obama should convey privately to Israel that the U.S. will no longer continue to veto Palestinian statehood at the U.N. Security Council if a deal isn't reached soon.
Congratulations to the people of Palestine on the world's recognition of their statehood. However, I do not agree with the conclusion that the vote at the United Nations was a setback for Israel.
What Israel was apparently unable to do, and Obama would not help it do, was to change the status of the two parties at the negotiating table. Palestine is now an equal partner with Israel in those negotiations, and talks between equals are always essential for an equitable outcome.
John R. Shiban
The U.N. today is a travesty of the democratic and progressive organization founded in the 1940s. Recognition has been given to a state that has tried to destroy another U.N. state. Of course, the vote was a foregone conclusion from a body that has by far adopted more resolutions against Israel than against any other country.
While the U.N. is in such a generous mood, why not recognize statehood for Kurdistan, Tibet and even the Basque nation, among others?
Harold W. Seifer