Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN Upgrades Palestinian Status

Palestinians Celebrate UN Vote To Upgrade Status
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:01:21 0:00

WATCH: Palestinians celebrate UN vote to upgrade status.

Palestinians have had their status upgraded at the United Nations to "nonmember state."

One hundred and thirty-eight countries voted in favor of the Palestinian resolution at the UN General Assembly, with nine voting against -- including the United States and Israel -- and 41 others abstaining.

The move means indirect recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine, comprising the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Before the vote, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas urged the UN to deliver the "birth certificate of Palestine."

Afterward, the Palestinian representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, called it a "historic day" after the vote.

"More than two-thirds of the membership of the United Nations voted with Palestine. The General Assembly legislated the recognition of the state of Palestine, and bestowing on it an observer-state status, nonmember observer state status," Mansour told reporters.

Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor reiterated that the Jewish state wanted peace with the Palestinians, but he warned the vote would push those efforts "backward."

He said only bilateral talks could achieve peace.

"The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through the UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel's vital security and national interests. As because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn't advance peace, it then pushes it backwards," Prosor told the General Assembly.

'Obstacles' To Peace

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the Palestinian resolution was "unfortunate and counterproductive" and put up more "obstacles" on the path to peace.

"Progress towards a just and lasting two-state solution cannot be made by pressing a green voting button here in this hall. Nor does passing any resolution create a state where none indeed exists, or change the reality on the ground," Rice told the General Assembly.

"For this reason, today's vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for UN membership. It does not. This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state."

The upgrade means the Palestinians can join UN agencies, including the International Criminal Court, where they could pursue action against Israel.

Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East expert at New York University, told RFE/RL the vote could have a deep impact.

"It could change the dynamic. It will empower the Palestinian Authority, specifically in the way the configuration between Israel and Hamas is calculated, where Hamas has got a serious political boost," Ben-Meir said.

"It will reengage the United States, which has been pretty much absent from what's going on in the Middle East, and between the Israelis and the Palestinians in particular; and also, it will reengage the international community in a much more serious manner, [with] the EU also having now a much greater role than they have had in the past."

The vote sparked boisterous celebrations in the West Bank city of Ramallah, with people waving Palestinian flags, honking car horns, and dancing.

Despite the celebrations, however, analysts say real independence remains an elusive dream for the Palestinians, one that can only be achieved through a peace deal with the Israelis.

With reporting by RFE/RL UN correspondent Courtney Brooks, AP, and Reuters
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.