epa06438685 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council, at his presidency compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah, 14 January 2018. Other officials are unidentified. The Central Council of the PLO started on 14 January its 28th meeting and called to urgently discuss the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

Palestine takes reins at UN group

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has pledged to protect the interests of all 134 countries in the UN’s Group of 77, a bloc of mainly developing nations, as his state took chairmanship of the group from Egypt for 2019.

The G77 group was originally founded by 77 members in 1964 but has expanded to 134 mainly developing nations – more than two-thirds of the UN’s 193 member states.

Israel, the United States and Australia were the only countries that voted to oppose Palestine’s chairmanship at the UN General Assembly in October.

The chairmanship marks a key step forward for the Palestinian presence at the UN. The UN General Assembly recognised Palestine as an observer state in 2012 following a failed bid for full UN membership.

Read the article in the Herald Sun (Deutsche Presse Agentur).