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Breaking News: UN To Vote For Palestinian Resolution

Aired November 29, 2012 - 16:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: A landmark day possibly for the Palestinian's long struggle to gain greater international recognition. Right now the UN general assembly considering the Palestinian's bid for elevated status. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas making his case there.

We have for you two live reports. Richard Roth at the United Nations, Frederik Pleitgen in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Richard, let's start with you. Where are we in this process?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN UN CORRESPONDENT: Well, standing ovation for the Palestinian leader. He got one on his way in.

Where are we in the process? Well, both sides - the Israelis and Palestinians, they're not at the negotiating table. The Palestinians think this resolution, giving them this upgraded status in UN terms nonmember UN state will provide an impetus to get negotiations going. They say that's what they're ready to do as soon as this resolution is voted on, which will happen in - within the hour.

Strong support here for the UN at the Palestinians. The U.S. opposes, says this is harmful for the process. Lobbying by Washington around the world did not work. The resolution still went forward. The UK is abstaining. Other European countries such as France, Spain, and Portugal will go along.

It opens the door to the Palestinians potentially going to UN or other international groups like the International Criminal Court to be a state and appeal for perhaps charges against Israel.

Right now, Israel's ambassador Ron Prosor is speaking. The response to President Abbas.

RON PROSOR, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: ...beating heart we are a nation with deep roots in the past and bright hopes for the future. We are a nation that values idealism, but acts with pragmatism. Israel is a nation that never hesitates to defend itself, but will always, always extend its hand for peace. Peace is a central value of business society.

The Bible calls on us and says (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), "seek peace and pursue it."

Peace fills our heart and poetry. It is taught in our schools as being the goal of the Israeli people and every Israeli leader since Israel was reestablished 64 years ago. Israel's declaration of independent states, and I quote, "we extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborness. And appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help."

This week was the 35th anniversary of President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem. In a speech just before the visit, President Sadat famously stood in the Egyptian parliament in Cairo and stated that he would go, and I quote, "to the ends of the earth to make peace with Israel."

Israel's prime minister at that time Menachem Begin welcomed President Sadat to Israel and paved the way for peace.

This morning, Prime Minister Netanyahu stood at Menachem Begin Center and said this about the resolution that you are about to vote on. He said, "Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel's security must be protected. The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all."

None of these vital interests, these vital interests for peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the general assembly today. And that is why Israel cannot accept it. The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through the UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel's vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one- sided, it doesn't advance peace, it pursues - it then pushes it backwards.

As for the rights of the Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the general assembly today, no decision by the UN can break the 4,000 year old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.

The people of Israel wait for a Palestinian leader that is willing to follow in the path of President Sadat. The world awaits for President Abbas to speak the truth about peace that can only be achieved through negotiations by recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. It waits for him to tell them that peace would also address Israel's security needs and end the conflict once and for all.

For as long as President Abbas prefers symbolism over reality, as long as he prefers to travel to New York for UN resolutions rather than travel to Jerusalem for genuine dialogue, any hope of peace will be out of reach.

Mr. President, Israel has always extend its hand in peace and will always extend its hands for peace. When we faced an Arab leader who wanted peace, we made peace. That was the case with Egypt and that is the case with Jordan.

Time and again we've sought peace with the Palestinians, time and again we've been met by a rejection of our offers, denial of our rights, and terrorism targeting our citizens. President Abbas described today's proceeding as historic, but the only thing historic about his speech is how much it ignored history.

The truth. The truth is that 65 years ago today the United Nations voted to petition the British mandate into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state. Two states for two people. Israel accepted this plan, the Palestinians and the Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war for annihilation to throw the Jews into the sea.

The truth is that from 1948 and 1967 the West Bank was ruled by Jordan and Gaza was ruled by Egypt. The Arab states did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. Instead, they sought Israel's destruction and were joined by newly formed Palestinian terrorist organizations.

The truth is that at Camp David in 2000 and again in Annapolis in 2008 Israeli leaders made far reaching offers for peace. Those offers were met by rejection, evasion, and even terrorism.

The truth is to advance peace in 2005 Israel dismantled entire communities and uprooted thousands of people from their homes in the Gaza Strip. And rather than use this opportunity to build a peaceful future, the Palestinians turned Gaza into an Iranian terror base from which thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli cities. As we were reminded just last week, the area has been turned into a launching pad for rockets in Israeli cities, a haven for global terrorists, and an ammunition dump for Iranian weapons.

Time after time, the Palestinian leadership refused to accept responsibility, they refuse to make the tough decisions for peace.

Israel remains committed for peace, but we will not establish another Iranian terror base in the heart of our country. We need a peace that will endure, a peace that will secure the future of Israel.

Three months ago, Israel's prime minister stood in this very hall at this very podium and extended his hand to peace to President Abbas. He reiterated that his goal was to create a solution for two states for two people with a demilitarized Palestinian state would recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That's right, two states for two people.

In fact, President Abbas I did not hear you use the phrase two states for two people this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase two states for two people, because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. They have never been - they have never been willing to accept what this very, very body recognized 65 years ago. Israel is the Jewish state.

In fact today you ask the world to recognize the Palestinian state, but you still refuse to recognize the Jewish state.

Not only do you not recognize the Jewish state, you also try to erase Jewish history. This year, you even tried to eras the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. You said that Jews were trying to alter the historical character of Jerusalem. You said that we're trying to judaize (ph) Jerusalem.

President Abbas, the truth is that Jerusalem had the Jewish character long before most cities in the world had any character. 3,000 years ago King David ruled from Jerusalem and Jews have lived in Jerusalem ever since.

President Abbas, instead of revising history it is time that you started making history by making peace with Israel.

Mr. President, this resolution will not advance peace. This resolution will not change the situation on the ground. It will not change the fact that the Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza and that is 40 percent of the territory they claim to represent. President Abbas, you can't even visit nearly half the territory of the state you claim to represent. That territory is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organizations that rains missiles on Israeli civilians. This is the same Hamas that fired more than 1,300 rockets into the heart of Israel's major cities this month.

This resolution will not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority which clearly fails to meet the criteria for statehood. This resolution will not enable the Palestinian Authority to join international treaties, organizations or conferences as a state. This resolution cannot serve an acceptable terms of reference for peace negotiations, because this resolution says nothing about Israel's security needs. It does not call on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and it does not demand an end to the conflict and a termination of all claims.

Let me tell you what this resolution does do. This resolution violates fundamental binding commitments. This is a commitment that many of the states here today, gathered in this chamber, were with themselves witness to. It was a commitment that all outstanding issues in the peace process would only be resolved in direct negotiations. The resolution sends a message that the international community is willing to turn a blind eye to peace agreements. For the people of Israel it raises a simple question, why continue to make painful sacrifices for peace in exchanges for pieces of paper that the other side will not honor?

It will make a negotiated peace settlement less likely as Palestinians continue to harden their positions and place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and to peace.

And unfortunately it will raise expectations that cannot be met which is always, always proven to be the recipe for conflict and instability.

There's only one route to Palestinian statehood. And that route does not run through this chamber in New York, that route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are no shortcuts, no quick fixes, no instant solutions. As President Obama said in 2010, peace cannot be imposed from the outside.

The real message of this resolution for the people of Israel is that the international community will turn a blind eye to violations of these agreements by the Palestinians. Mr. President, in submitting this resolution, the Palestinian leadership is once again making the wrong choice. 65 years ago, Palestinians could have chosen to live side by side with the Jewish state of Israel. 65 years ago they could have chosen to accept the solution of two states for two people. They rejected it then and they are rejecting it again today.

The international community should not encourage this rejection, it should not encourage the Palestinian leadership to drive forward recklessly with both feet pressing down on the gas, no hands on the wheel, and no eyes on the road. Instead, it should encourage the Palestinians to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions in order to achieve a historic peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.

Mr. President, Winston Churchill said "the truth is incontrovertible, panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is." The truth is that Israel wants peace and the Palestinians are avoiding peace. Those...

FOSTER: Israeli ambassador to the United Nations saying a resolution being voted on tonight will not improve the situation for peace over there in the Middle East with the Palestinian Authority.

Our next guest says the Palestinian's bid at the UN won't solve anything either. Aaron David Miller is a former adviser to six U.S. Secretaries of State on the Middle East peace process. He's not vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington.

There's a debate going on right now. There will be a vote afterwards. Are you in any way able to sum up what's happened so far?

AARON DAVID MILLER, FRM. ADVIDSER TO U.S. SECRETARIES OF STATE: Look, I think this effort on the part of Mahmoud Abbas is as understandable as it is ineffectual. The fact is Abbas is a desperate man. There are no negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. And frankly there shouldn't be, because any effort to bridge the gaps between Abbas and Netanyahu on the core issues are not going to succeed. Abbas has given up the gun, which essentially makes him probably the best partner Israel has ever had or probably will have. But the problem is no matter how strong a partner if he can't deliver, well, Houston as they say, we have a problem.

So he's left in the wake of Hamas's gains in the past several weeks with not much in the way of credible alternatives.

So this, it seems to me, is the default position. The problem is that this is not going to produce. And it's going to leave the Palestinians by early next week, I think, with a lot of broken expectations. And in the same difficult situation in which they've been.

So, no, I don't think this is going to solve much.

FOSTER: What Mahmoud Abbas wants is observer state status, which isn't full status as Israel has. It won't put them on an equal playing field on a diplomatic international basis, but it does take him closer to that. So surely putting him in a stronger position to negotiate politically will at least help towards a peace process.

MILLER: You know, I really wish that were the case. But what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has demonstrated nigh on half a century now is that what counts, really, is what is determined by what happens on the ground. You know, it's a tragic irony that it was Hamas's rockets and the support that Hamas received from traditional American allies - Turkey, Qatar, and Egypt - that essentially put the Israeli-Palestinian problem on front and center stage, not Abbas's diplomacy.

The reality is this gain I'm afraid will be gone by early next week leaving Hamas in a much stronger position, because it has things and it's being courted by much of the Arab world. I don't see the Arabs running to Ramallah to pay homage and tribute to Mahmoud Abbas. I don't see hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into Ramallah. I do see that...

FOSTER: The vote is expected in the next hour or so. There's a series of speeches taking place currently at the United Nations. I think the majority of the UN's 193 members to get this observer status.

If observer status is approved, and many people think that is likely, does that somehow damage Israel's position do you think? I mean, how does it actually change things if it does get approved?

MILLER: Look, the reality is that this initiative is not nearly as momentous as its advocates believe and it's not nearly as catastrophic as its detractors suggest. The fact is as long as the United States, and it will continue to support the Israelis in the international arena, upholds the position that the UN or the ICC or any other international UN body is not an appropriate place to deal with issues relating to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, then in my view not much is going to change.

This is an emotional, symbolic and perhaps well deserved boost for a very tired, frustrated and desperate man, but it will not advance the cause of Palestinian statehood and it is not going to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas's position on the ground.

FOSTER: You say it won't strengthen the - this isn't the appropriate place for these sorts of debates. Many countries disagree. And we'll see a test of that a bit later on whether or not many people do vote for the Palestinian sort of motion.

We're looking here at images from Ramallah. There's a huge sense of elation there in Palestinian Authority. There's a huge sense of positivity. Surely there's something to be said for the momentum that could be caused by a sense of progress even if you don't think it will make a big differences?

MILLER: Look, the problem is I've watched and participated in this process now for almost 25 years. And the reality is these momentary lifts, as emotionally satisfying as they are, aren't going to lead to the kind of traction or momentum that you suggest which is going to advance the reality of Palestinian statehood.

And this - if there is a danger here - and frankly I'm not sure that there is a danger - but if there is a downside here, it's that the expectations will once again be raised by Mahmoud Abbas. Without his capacity to either end the Israeli occupation or even broaden the economic horizons for most Palestinians in the West Bank. I mean, the PA is confronting a serious fiscal crisis and at the same time it is being confronted by a huge challenge by the religious manifestation of Palestinian nationalism.

Abbas is strong for the moment, but by next week not much will have changed to bolster his situation from an economic point of view or a political point of view.

FOSTER: OK. Aaron David Miller from the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Thank you so much for joining us. So many views to this debate. We will be reflecting them in the coming hours here on CNN. We're waiting for this vote in the United Nations.

The Palestinian Authority is seeking an upgrade in its status there. We're expecting it anytime in the next hour. We will be bringing you that. We'll be back in just a moment.


FOSTER: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Max Foster, these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

The UN General Assembly is expected to vote soon an a Palestinian bid for elevated status. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli UN ambassador Ron Prosor just finished addressing the Assembly there.

Egypt Air is suspending all flights to the Syrian capital Damascus because of the deteriorating security situation around the airport. The road to Damascus International Airport has been shut down.

A special assembly in Egypt has been voting on a new constitution. Some critics of President Mohamed Morsi see the move as an effort by the Muslim Brotherhood to hijack the constitution. Others consider it a way to end the crisis over a recent decree that gave Morsi expanded presidential powers.

And a judge has recommended that Britain's press should have an independent regulator backed by legislation. Brian Leveson's inquiry was set up following widespread claims of phone-hacking, which eventually led to the closure of the "News of the World" newspaper.

Now, Palestinians are already celebrating in the West Bank and Gaza. They say what's happening now at the UN is an important step towards their dream of an independent homeland. Frederik Pleitgen joins us now from Ramallah, the power base of the Palestinian Authority. And Fed, some extraordinary scenes there behind you. Just talk us through it.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, an extraordinary scene here, Max. This is basically party that's been going on here in Ramallah throughout the better part of the day, and we'll just have a look at the celebrations that are still going on.

Of course, the people here are very carefully listening to the speech of Mahmoud Abbas that we will also listening to just a couple of minutes ago, and you'll recall that he spoke a lot about a sense of urgency for the Palestinian people to finally get that status of being a state, even if it is, of course, a non-member observer state.

To a lot of people who we've been speaking to throughout the day, this does mean a great deal. A lot of people that we've been speaking to tell us, as you rightly said, that they believe that this could be a first step towards full statehood somewhere down the line.

A lot of them have been very disappointed at the way the peace process, the lack of negotiations, if you will, have been going between the Palestinians and the Israelis over the past couple of years, so for many of them, they really do believe that this is quite a significant step even though, as we've been pointing out, it is something that is largely symbolic.

And so, many people have turned out here tonight. They've been watching the speeches for the better part of the day. There's been a lot of other partying going on.

Of course, these people expect nothing less than this vote to go out positively for the Palestinians. It certainly seems unthinkable to them that it could be any other way, and it is something that does hold a lot of significance to a lot of people here.

The folks that we've been speaking to on the ground say that this is very important for Mahmoud Abbas, and it's very important for them, even though they are, of course, aware that it won't really change the situation on the ground. No checkpoints are going to go away, no economic closures are going away. The situation will essentially be the same as before.

However, that one word, "state," is very important to a lot of the folks here, a lot of them telling us that in the past, they've felt as though a people -- they were a people without a land. That is something that to many of them, even though it is only symbolic, might be on the verge of changing, Max.

FOSTER: A huge moment coming up for them, possibly. Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. Back with you, of course, in the coming hours.

Meanwhile, Syria is experiencing an almost total internet blackout. It began at 12:26 Damascus time. And you can see from this graph that internet connectivity just stopped completely. The Syrian government has blamed terrorists for the events being compared to Egypt, where they dying days of the Mubarak regime, the country's internet was actually switched off.

Damascus Airport is also closed with sources citing fighting nearby. Egypt Air and Emirates have canceled their flights to Syria. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has been monitoring the situation from neighboring Lebanon.

And interesting, Nick, that the US ambassador to Syria talking about the internet being shut down in the past by the government, making comparisons, and clearly sending a message out there as well.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not clear exactly why the shutdown happened today. Most internet analysts say this sort of things could only occur if a government flicks what you refer to as a kill switch.

But yes, as you pointed out, in the middle of the day a massive drop- off in traffic, anything between 92 to 100 percent, now, of the internet not working inside. Their cell phones, too. The feeling of someone trying to shut down all communication from inside the country.

Is that the government trying to stop rebels from posting news of their successes and communicating between each other? Very possible, although the government has blamed what they refer to as terrorists for stopping the internet.

But it does seem, really, this portrays some sort of crisis within the heart of Damascus's ruling elite that they would take this drastic measure after months of letting the internet continue to function. Many are saying that they used it to track down activists they were after.

But also, Max, this absolutely vital move on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus International Airport, here, started with many major commercial airliners shutting down flights from it. Then news of potential clashes nearby, Syrian rebels saying they had courses within two kilometers of it.

Then news of Austrian peacekeepers working for the UN, likely wounded on their way to the airport, and then the regime, apparently, sending in large numbers of forces to secure areas around it.

So, really, one of the key parts of the capital's infrastructure certainly under threat tonight. We don't quite know how close rebels are, but it stopped it working, and that's deeply symbolic, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Nick, thank you very much, indeed. Well, CNN's Arwa Damon is in northern Syria. Phones aren't working in the country, and she filed this reports shortly before the program for us.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Max, I can tell you that where we are right now in northern Syria, here, there's no power, no cell phone service, land lines have even shut down, and there is no internet service at all. I am communicating with you via satellite phone.

Now, the opposition members that we are with are saying that this is the government at work, that this is the largest blackout that they have experienced, especially when it comes to cell phone and internet service. And they do firmly believe that this is the government's way of trying to prevent them from communicating with one another.

But perhaps more importantly, even, communicating with the outside world and uploading those YouTube videos that have provided such a window to what is taking place here. The government, for its part, is blaming the blackout on terrorist activity saying it is looking to resolve the situation.

But what has been quite striking throughout our -- during the day through Aleppo province is that we went through various villages and towns where two months ago, one would not have been able to travel through without coming across government troops, without coming across fierce clashes in some of them.

And this vast swathe of territory now so firmly in the opposition's control that we are even seeing civilians beginning to return to it. So, not only are the rebels gaining more territory, but people in the area feel confident enough that the regime is not going to return to these parts of Aleppo province that they are going back to their homes.

That being said, around the city of Aleppo itself, one can hear the sounds of explosions in the distance. We've been hearing that there was a fairly intense bombing campaign there.

But one thing is pretty clear at this point, and that is that despite the fact that there has been virtually no support from the outside to the rebels here, be it financial or military, no significant support, that is, this is still a fighting force that has managed to make gains all the way.

And that is why the vast majority of the rebel fighters we're speaking to are fairly optimistic that at some point in time -- they're not entirely sure when that is going to be -- that they are going to eventually win this battle.

Of course, the great concern amongst many is that the longer Assad stays in power, more of these fringe extremist elements do tend to grow. But at this point in time, it is quite clear that the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army are making significant gains throughout the entire country, Max.


FOSTER: Arwa Damon there. Coming up, we will be watching that UN vote, of course, on the status of the Palestinian Authority. Also, we know that the pen is mightier than the sword, but what about the paintbrush? After the break, we meet the Japanese artist bringing Samurai to life in Human to Hero.


FOSTER: Manga artist Takehiko Inoue is a household name in Japan. His "Slam Dunk" comic book series has sold over 100 million copies, can you believe, nationwide? In this week's Human to Hero series, he tells us what inspires him and how his unique style brings the stories to life.


TAKEHIKO INOUE, MANGA ARTIST (through translator): Vivid characters make a good story. If the characters are alive, they will create the story by themselves.

One story is made up of around 150 frames. I've been known to make three stories in five hours. Before a deadline, I get just one or two hours of sleep a day. But if I say that, I'm afraid you might think Japanese manga artists are crazy!

We are not like painters who just have to express beauty on canvas. We have to have a story, meaning, and also entertain.

I think about the way people will read the book, what's the first thing they will see as they turn the page. I want to grab their attention. In my case, the draft process determines the outcome of my work. This part of the process is my battleground.

There is nothing more important than the eyes. Now that I've drawn the eyes, the character is alive. The hair you can draw however you want. There is no set way. This is the fun bit.


INOUE: I draw with the brush. I think this is very rare among Japanese manga artists. The brush gives more freedom. The brush can go to unintended places, the color can fade.

All the characters I create draw something out of me. I have to give them difficult challenges in the drama, and I accept those challenges as if I were one of the characters. When I'm drawing a facial expression, it's reflected in my own face. Look, he has a peaceful face, not angry.

The manga I draw is not a fairytale or fantasy. My characters might be imaginary, but I draw them as if they were in a documentary. That's how I see my manga, and that's actually what I think a good manga should be.



FOSTER: A vote expected imminently at the United Nations. We have a series of speeches going on there at the moment, and the vote will be the Palestinian Authority, effectively, seeing an upgraded status in the United Nations. They fell it'll help their negotiations -- peace negotiations with Israel. Israel, the ambassador, at least, to the UN, saying that certainly won't be the case.

What exactly would becoming a non-member observer state, as it's known, actually mean to the Palestinians? Well, right now, they're considered an "entity" by the UN.

The elevated status falls short of full member state, which comes with full voting rights, but it would allow Palestinians pursue membership in other international organizations, perhaps most importantly, the International Criminal Court. Now, Palestinians could then conceivably file war crimes complaints against Israel.

Not all Israelis are opposed to the Palestinian bid. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert talked just a short while ago to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.


EHUD OLMERT, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: I think the direction of this move is the right direction. We have to move rapidly for a two- state solution. We have to engage immediately in a dialogue.

That's what I was doing with Abu-Mazen for a couple of years, and I think that Israel and the Palestinians -- and it's incumbent upon us just as it is incumbent upon them -- we have to engage in a serious dialogue that will implement this basic approach.


FOSTER: You can watch the rest of that interview on "Amanpour." It's in less than an hour from now here on CNN.

And Brazil have turned to the past in order to break out of their football slump. Amanda Davies is here with more. And Brazil haven't won the World Cup in ten years, and the pressure for them to end that streak at home in 2014 isn't it?


FOSTER: Immense.

DAVIES: It is. There's always more pressure on the host nation of a World Cup. We saw before South Africa hosted the World Cup, they decided to dump their manager and have a change.

There's not many teams at the moment who would overlook Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona boss, but that's exactly what Brazil have done. They've said, you know what? We need somebody with international experience to take us through this time, what could be a very crucial time for Brazilian football.

And so, they've gone back to the future, they've gone back to their former boss, Luiz Felipe Scolari, the man who led them to World Cup success in 2002. And he was very much installed as the favorite as soon as Mano Menezes was sacked this time last week.

They've had a really poor run in the form of disappointment in last year's Copa America. Disappointed with silver at the London Olympics. And yes, the host nation, they need to get back to winning ways and put in a performance, because football is a religion in Brazil, and that's very much what they're looking for.

FOSTER: The FIFA Player of the Year, as well. It's not as clear-cut as everyone's suggesting, is it?

DAVIES: Well --yes.


FOSTER: It is, pretty much.

DAVIES: Basically, it is, but they have to go through the rules and the regulations. The rules are, they start with a short list of 23 --


DAVIES: That short list then gets cut to 3. But it has to be said, even with that short list of 3, Lionel Messi is still very much the odds-on favorite.

He's joined in the short list by a fellow Barca player, Andres Iniesta. He was named the Player of the Tournament at the European Championship, helped lead Spain to victory once again in that. But Cristiano Ronaldo is also there, the Real Madrid striker who scored over 60 goals in all competitions last season to help Real Madrid to victory in La Liga.

But yes, very much still, Lionel Messi is everybody's favorite, and he's the one who people expect to walk home with the FIFA Ballon D'Or, it's most prestigious world player of the year title for the fourth year in a row, so, yes.

FOSTER: We look forward to that. When is that going to be?

DAVIES: That is the first week of January.


DAVIES: Hopefully, we will be there.

FOSTER: I'm sure you will be.


FOSTER: Amanda, thank you very much, indeed.

We're going to take you to the UN, now. Richard Roth is there, watching that vote on the status of the Palestinian Authority. Where are we exactly now, Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, where we are is that the vote is expected shortly after the current president of the General Assembly finishes what he wanted to say again right before this moment.

The majority of the speakers so far, led by President Abbas of the Palestinians, were condemnatory of Israel and saying that enough with settlements, aggression, and other attacks, the Palestinians deserve their own state.

What they're about to get by the General Assembly's vote by electronic ballot is a new title, upgrade status in the diplomatic system here and around the world. It's called non-member UN state.

They don't have the right to vote, the Palestinians here, but they can join or appeal to certain UN or international organizations, such as the International Criminal Court, where they can certainly kick up a big fuss, which they say they might do if Israel, quote, "misbehaves."

President Abbas of the Palestinians got several standing ovations, saying now is the time. Last year, Palestine -- Palestinians were blocked by the United States veto in the Security Council for full statehood.

So, as soon as Vuk Jeremic, the president of the General Assembly, from Serbia, former foreign minister, concludes, we should see a vote, which will go the Palestinians' way. Everyone is watching to see by how much, similar to the recent US presidential election, I guess you could say. How big will the margin be? How many European countries side with the Palestinians?

The US is ready to vote no. We saw US ambassador Susan Rice, a potential nominee for secretary of state, sitting in the audience representing the United States. The US will speak possibly hours from now on a long list of countries.

Everyone, Max, always wants to speak on the Middle East or the Palestinian issue. You will never have trouble getting a crowd together to speak, to line up. The UN has spent the majority of its work in its existence on this issue.

And curiously, and probably on purpose, I think, 65 years ago, the UN General Assembly, this same group, declared its partition plan to split the land of Palestine between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Israel took the deal, the Palestinians didn't.

The president of the General Assembly is now asking the assembly members to cast their ballots. Talking about their feelings in their heart, "your choice," so, they're last minute -- almost like a class professor, putting the vote. Let's listen, here. We may get our vote procedure starting.


VUK JEREMIC, PRESIDENT, UNITED NATIONS GEENERAL ASSEMBLY: The assembly would now take a decision on draft resolution A/67/L.28, entitled "Status of Palestine in the United Nations." I will now give the floor to the under-secretary-general.

JEAN-JACQUES GRAISSE, ACTING HEAD, DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT: Thank you, Mr. President. I should like to announce that since the submission of the draft resolution, and in addition to those delegations listed on the L document, the following countries have also become co-sponsors of A/67/L.28.

Angola, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belize, Granada, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Niger, Sri Lanka --

FOSTER: As we go through this process, Richard Roth is watching on from the United Nations. As I understand it, Richard, 193 members, there, so they'll need 97 votes to carry this through. It doesn't need to go to the Security Council. Is that correct about 97 we're looking for? That's the key figure?

ROTH: Yes, let's listen here. He's putting the vote officially to the chamber, I believe. Let's listen.

JEREMIC: -- please signify.


JEREMIC: Those against, and also the abstentions.


GRAISSE: The General Assembly is now voting on Draft Resolution A/67/L.28, entitled "Status of Palestine in the United Nations." Will all delegations confirm that their votes are accurately reflected on the board.

JEREMIC: A lot of countries are missing, no? This one doesn't work. This one doesn't seem to work.

GRAISSE: The voting has been completed. Please lock the machine.


JEREMIC: The result of the voting is as follows. In favor, 138. Opposed, 9. Abstentions, 41. I now call a short pause in the proceeding of this meeting.


JEREMIC: The floor to the secretary-general of the United Nations.

ROTH: All right. Uproarious cheering following the Palestinians gaining non-member UN observer status here. In the middle of the picture there on the left, President Abbas of the Palestinians and the secretary- general of the UN is going to speak. You saw the stoic face, there, of Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor in the middle of that.

The vote once again, 138 votes in favor, 9 against, 41 abstentions. They had to clear the minimum in the low 90s, so by a wide margin, the Palestinians get what the wanted. If they didn't get as many European countries, there might be some disappointment. I saw the US voting no, Czech Republic voting no, very hard on that antiquated electronic board to pick up always who voted no.

Where do we go from here is the big question. What are the consequences should the Palestinians try to join different UN organizations, especially the International Criminal Court? That's -- as usual, that proverbial open question.

Israel, the United States lobbied hard against this. There have been hints of punishment in the way of financial contributions being cut or other actions. No country has specifically laid out what, indeed would happen. A lot of it may be based on what the Palestinians do next.

Victory for Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinians. We saw the large crowds there in the Middle East. Hamas leaders had signed on, also, for this saying it was OK with them.

Some of the other nos, the United States, Paula, Micronesia, Canada, Marshall Islands, Panama. This is very similar to a vote they have ever November on the embargo on Cuba where it's the United States and a handful of countries, and the rest of the world sides with, in that case, Cuba.

In this case, the Palestinians have achieved by a wide margin what they wanted this year. They didn't get what they wanted last year, full statehood on the world stage, but they're inching closer to full statehood. But that doesn't appear that that will happen unless Israel and the Palestinians sit down and, somehow, an agreement is forged.

That's the path the US, in opposing this -- and Canada and the US thought. Canada's foreign affairs minister, in his speech, said "Canada opposes this resolution in its strongest terms because it undermines the core foundations of a decades-long commitment by the international community and the parties themselves to a two-state solution."

The Palestinians are saying, this shouldn't affect that. They're ready to sit down and negotiate as soon as possible after this vote, that -- what they want are their rights back, but they're tired of the aggression and attacks, according to President Abbas and his speech, which drew several standing ovations today.

Israel says this whole action is more emotional, it will never bring a two-state creation as soon as possible. Susan Rice now speaking from the floor for the United States. Let's listen. If we can.