MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday defended its vote in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution upgrading Palestine’s observer status at the world body.
The DFA said that the country is “supportive of the two-state solution to the issue of Palestine and Israel” and that it should not have a negative impact on the country’s relations with the United States.
“We are supportive of the two-state solution to the issue of Palestine and Israel and we are hoping that one day Palestine will be able to live independently and peacefully with its neighbor in that part of the world,” DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez told reporters.
With a vote of 138-9 and 41 abstentions, the UN General Assembly approved last week the resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status to a non-member observer state.
Meanwhile, Hernandez also noted that the country was keeping its temporary ban on the deployment of new hires to Israel, as well as its travel advisories to the region, “until we are confident that there are no more risks as far as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) there are concerned.”
The DFA had earlier responded to a statement made by Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-On criticizing the ban, citing an improved security situation amid the ceasefire agreed on Nov. 21 between Israeli and Hamas forces.
In its statement, the DFA noted that the government had the “sovereign duty and prerogative to protect all its nationals.”
When asked about the DFA’s assessment of the situation of the Filipinos in Gaza, Hernandez said that so far the ceasefire was holding and that authorities from the country’s embassy continued to prioritize the safety of the people. He noted however that no Filipino had expressed intentions to leave the area.
The DFA had placed parts of Israel on alert levels that barred the deployment of new hires. Alert level 2 was hoisted over central and southern Israel, while alert level 4 was called over Hamas-controlled Gaza.
An advisory was also issued warning Filipinos against traveling to Gaza and to defer travel to Central and Southern Israel.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, for his part, appealed for understanding from sectors seeking the lifting of the ban.
“We hope they will understand that lives are at risk, including those of Filipinos,” he said.
“But once the situation at the Gaza Strip has cleared and a ceasefire is put in place, then the Philippine government will consider lifting the ban as long as we don’t put the lives of Filipinos at risk,” he added.