The Group of 77, the bloc of developing countries at the UN, has chosen the observer state of Palestine as its next leader starting in January, Palestinian UN ambassador Riyad Mansour said, the New York Times reports. The bloc, first formed in 1964, now numbers 135 countries and represents 80% of the world’s population.
Israel and the U.S. have argued that the status of the Palestinians at the UN does not mean that there is an independent state of Palestine, and that only direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians can achieve such an outcome. Both countries opposed the Palestinian mission’s elevation in 2012 from an entity to an observer state, and opposed the decision in 2015 granting the Palestinians the right to fly their flag at UN headquarters.
Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon said, “The goal of the Group of 77 originally was to facilitate the economic advancement of underdeveloped nations. It is unfortunate that it will now become a platform for spreading lies and incitement. This will not promote the G-77’s goals, and encourages the Palestinians to not engage in negotiations for peace.”