By Anna Sheinman
November 30, 2012
The Rock Islands in Palau, one of Israel's allies
The inevitable has happened. The PA has been upgraded in the UN General Assembly with a huge majority vote.
Israel was against the motion, as was its eternal ally the US, and Canada presumably does as it’s told. The traditionally pro-Israel Czech Republic also said nay.
Perhaps more surprisingly to the casual UN live feed viewer, also pitching their tents in the anti-upgrade camp were the tiny nations of Palau, Nauru, Micronesia, Panama and the Marshall Islands.
Now perhaps you, dear reader, are better informed, but the first two I am pretty sure were invented, the third I formerly believed to exist only in Gulliver’s Travels, and a Panama, I am quite clear, is a hat. Let’s not get in to how someone called Marshall has multiple islands.
Apart from Panama, which I have now discovered is in Central America, and have latterly remembered it probably has a canal, Wikipedia tells me that the others are all small islands or archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean north-east of Australia. I am reassured that the shocking gap in my geographical knowledge is at least a long, long way away.
Here are my top facts about Israel’s new best friends.
Palau has 16 states, the most populated, Koror is an island 18km square, with a population of 12,000. The country was inhabited by Pgymies until the 12th century. The nation has a Jewish community, and sent three members to the 2009 Maccabiah games.
Nauru is the world’s smallest republic, and with just over 9,000 citizens, has the world’s second smallest population after the Vatican City. Surrounded by a coral reef, the nation is one great phosphate rock, and mining of that phosphate meant (or so Wikipedia says) it had the highest per-capita income in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The downside to these riches is massive environmental degradation which has made much of the island uninhabitable.
The Federated States of Micronesia, north east of Indonesia, consists of 607 islands stretching over 2,900km. It boasts seven official languages including the wonderfully named Pingelapese.
The Marshall Islands are still being paid off by the US for nuclear missile tests in the 50s and 60s. The most famous test site was Bikini Atoll, which was featured heavily in the US news at the time when the first two-piece swimsuit went on sale. Et voila, not only do these Pacific states support Israel, they gave us the bikini.
On a more prosaic note, each of these states is to some extent administrated by the US, and US state department statistics show they tend to vote with the United States on General Assembly motions. This seems to give the US extra votes, which is kind of cheeky, but given temperatures average 28 degree Celsius all year round in these tropical island paradises, if that’s the only place left to go on holiday, who are we to complain?