The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to recognize a Palestinian state with non-member observer status.
There was jubiliation on the floor of the assembly after the resolution was approved Thursday by a vote of 138-to-9, with 41 nations abstaining. Palestinians in Ramallah erupted in wild cheers, hugging each other and honking horns after the vote.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the vote underscores the urgency for a resumption of meaningful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He urged both sides to renew their commitment to a negotiated peace.
But the U.S. envoy to the U.N., Susan Rice, described the vote as “unfortunate and counterproductive,” saying it places more obstacles in the path to peace. Rice said the United States will urge all parties to avoid any further provocative actions and to immediately resume negotiations without preconditions.
The diplomatic upgrade by the U.N. General Assembly will allow the Palestinian Authority access to key U.N. agencies, like the International Criminal Court.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the General Assembly ahead of Thursday’s vote that raising U.N. status for the Palestinians is the last chance to save a two-state solution. He said the Assembly “is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.”
Israel’s U.N. ambassador Ron Prosor called the resolution “one-sided,” saying that it doesn’t advance peace but pushes it backward.
The United States and Israel were among the nine states to reject the resolution.
Several U.S. lawmakers have threatened to cut aid to the Palestinians if they use their increased status against Israel.
(Photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)