UNITED NATIONS, July 31 -- The United Nations deputy spokesperson said Monday that the world body is looking forward to working with "the G77 and its leadership" when commenting on the bloc's election of Palestine as its next chair. The G77 is a coalition of developing nations that promotes their collective interests at the UN. Its recent election of Palestine to its chairmanship has irked Palestine's rival Israel and its ally the United States. Some have thought the move controversial as Palestine is a non-member observer of the UN. "Obviously these elections are in the hands of the member states," said Farhan Haq, the spokesperson. The group is "a very important venue for dealing the concerns of the developing world," he said, adding that "we look forward to working with the G77 and its leadership as we face the challenges of the coming year." Originally having 77 countries when formed in 1964, the group's membership has nearly doubled in size and comprises more than two-thirds of the UN's member states. The bloc often speaks as one voice in the UN General Assembly and represents more than 80 percent of the world's population. Under a G77 system of geographical rotation, it was the Asian group's turn to name a chair for 2019. In January 2019, Palestine will take over from current chair Egypt, which represents the African group.