President Juan Manuel Santos defended Colombia’s decision to abstain from voting on Palestinian statehood by asserting that bilateral diplomacy is the “only road” to lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority in his speech on Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly.

“We are concerned -like the rest of the international community- with the suspension of the peace talks and we urge -more than urge, we implore- the parties to return to negotiations as soon as possible, because this is the only, I repeat, the only road that leads to what we all want: two states living in peace and security,” said Santos.

“We therefore have to commit ourselves to strengthen and apply the peaceful methods of dispute settlement established under Chapter Six of the United Nations’ Charter. Because the more effective we are in the use of preventative diplomacy, the less need there will be for interventions.”

The president said that “we must bet, with conviction, on effective mediation: a mediation that does not seek the limelight and that give the necessary time and tools to establish trust and to work at convenient solutions for all parties,” said the head of state.

Santos pointed to the creation of South Sudan and its induction into the United Nations as the appropriate way to achieve state autonomy. After decades of civil war, the people of Sudan voted for South Sudan’s succession and statehood, voting almost unanimously for its creation. President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir recognized and supported South Sudan’s independence.

“We highlight as an example of appropriate compromise and negotiation which led to the creation of the Republic of South Sudan, the most recent member of the United Nations, to whom we give the warmest welcome,” said Santos.

Colombia, one of 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, recently announced that it will join the United States in its bid to block a vote for Palestinian statehood in the Security Council.

Colombia’s main opposition party Polo Democratico denounced the Colombian government’s “shameful submission” to the U.S. in supporting the American effort to block a vote. They condemned the Colombian government’s policy towards Palestinian autonomy, arguing that “the Palestinian people have every right to self-determination, without external interference.”