-Why so few votes against Palestine as an observer state of the United Nations?
-Current circumstances have led to this scenario.It was already known for some time that Palestine would enjoy a very strong vote in favour. In fact, this was already the case when Palestine joined UNESCO. Still, it remained to be seen to which extent pressure by Israel and the United States could have an effect on other countries.
-It seems that there has not been such an effect.
-Gaza attacks have been detrimental to Israel's goals, since its international image has been affected. It should be added that the US have been champions of Israeli positions -whatever questionable are they-, rather than being neutral mediators. This has been the case with [George] Bush and also with [Barack] Obama: it weakens the legitimacy of the US position.
-The US argue that recognizing Palestine will hinder a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
-This cannot be argued: how could a negociating dynamic be broken if such a negociating dynamic does not exist? Israel negociates with whom it wants at any given time, as has now been the case with Hamas.
-Some countries abstained when Palestine joined UNESCO but they have now voted in favour.
-This is a way to support the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in a moment when it is losing strength within Palestine itself. Hamas has benefited from the Gaza conflict. Through the recognition of Palestine, some internationals players have empowered and legitimized the PNA (and Fatah), and have raised its political profile. Thus the PNA takes back an important power to return to the negotiating table: it is now recognized as a dialogue partner.