The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution on Thursday to upgrade Palestine to a "non-member state" at the United Nations, implicitly recognizing a Palestinian state. The vote was 138 in favor, with nine votes against and 41 abstentions.
The nations that opposed the resolution, the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.
The move upgrades the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the UN to "non-member state" from "entity," placing it on the same level as the Vatican.
However, Palestine has no vote in the General Assembly but can now join UN agencies and potentially the International Criminal Court (ICC), where it could ask for a probe of Israeli actions, including the recent offensive against Gaza.
Addressing the assembly in New York ahead of the vote, said Palestinians would accept "no less than the independence of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital." He warned, however, that the time for an accord is running out, "the rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering."
Tomorrow we begin the real war, Abbas said, adding, we have a long and difficult road ahead of us.
Abbas stressed that Palestinians will act responsibly and positively in our next steps, and they will work to strengthen cooperation with the countries and peoples of the world for the sake of a just peace.
Following Abbas onto the UN stage, Israeli UN ambassador Ron Prosor said recognizing Palestine will place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and peace. It could even lead to increasing the violence.
Meanwhile, American UN ambassador was quick to kill some of the joy in the assembly, dubbing the resolution an obstacle to peace, because it would not lead to a return to direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
"Today's grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded," she said.
Following the vote, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets throughout the West Bank and Gaza to celebrate the UNGA's decision to upgrade them to a non-member observer state.
They cheered and shouted "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)" when the status upgrade was approved. Fireworks were launched, and a few of those celebrating even fired guns into the air as music rang out in the cities.
Moreover, Palestinian resistance movements and Islamic Jihad officials on Friday, welcomed the recognition of Palestine as a non-member state at the United Nations, calling it a "victory." Hamas official Ahmed Yussef told AFP news that Hamas considers this a shared achievement and a new victory on the road to the liberation of Palestine.
Addressing a rally in Gaza on Friday, Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said that the vote was a culmination of Gaza's victory and an affirmation of Palestinian steadfastness. He added that the movement welcomed the bid, while continuing its policy of not recognizing Israel and not giving up an inch of Palestinian land.
The Secretary-General of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Shalah, echoed Haniyeh's comments, calling the vote a "historic moment."
"The acceptance of Palestine as non-member state in the UN will return Palestine to its real people," he said.
On the other hand, Israeli prime minister slammed Abbas's address. "The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda," his office said.
Furthermore, after less than 24 hours from the decision stating Palestine as non-member state at the United Nations, Israel announced Friday afternoon that it will approve building of 3,000 new housing units in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Moreover, the first deputy head of the Israeli government, , threatened to militarily re-control the West Bank.
To read the text of President Mahmoud Abbas' speech, please check here:
To read the reply of the Israeli ambassador to President Abbas's speech please check here.
First of all, we thank all the countries that supported Palestinians and their legitimacy. We would like to remind the world that Palestine has entered the International Institution to be the 193rd state, as a reminder that there is a UN decision No. 194 that confirms Palestinians have the right to return to their home and villages where they were deported from.
The time has come for the truth to be revealed and for the world to recognize that there are still some people suffering from the occupation: They are the Palestinians. Therefore, it is their right to be liberated and have their own independent state like every country in the world and to live in freedom and dignity on their own land.
We are not surprised by the U.S. attitude, either before or after the vote. We know very well that America will punish the Palestinian people economically, and this was evident through the threats of U.S officials to the Palestinian Authority.
The United States opposed the decision because they know that the Palestinian people will be able, from now on, to go to the International Court of Justice to punish Israel for its continuous crimes against the Palestinian people. There was no other reason apart from that.
In fact, what pushed the Palestinian people to head to the UN is the deadlock in the peace process, in addition to the lack of progress in the negotiations. The reason that, the ministry in Israel was led by people whom did not have peace negotiations on their agenda at all.
Besides, there is the refusal of the US administration to put pressure on Israel, either for electoral considerations or due to the power of the Zionist lobby in America. Therefore, America lost the description of "honest mediator" in the negotiations. The White House and the Knesset are two faces to one coin. For this, the Palestinian decided to head to the international community and at the same time to support the Palestinian resistance, which is important to Palestinians, and the Palestinian people must not abandon it.