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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

UN Recognizes Palestinian State

Matt Pressberg |
November 29, 2012 | 3:08 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

PM Mahmoud Abbas won recognition of a Palestinian state at the U.N. (World Economic Forum/Flickr)
PM Mahmoud Abbas won recognition of a Palestinian state at the U.N. (World Economic Forum/Flickr)
The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Palestinian territories as a nonmember state in a historic vote Thursday afternoon, marking a milestone toward an eventual two-state solution in the Middle East.

Palestine received 138 votes in favor of its bid for a status similar to that of the Vatican, with nine objections and 41 countries abstaining. Two of the no votes were from the U.S. and Israel, who have long held the official position that a U.N. vote does not help with peace talks. Western European allies such as France and Italy supported the Palestinian bid, hoping to empower the moderate wing of Palestinian politics.

As Al-Jazeera reports, in his fiery speech Thursday immediately preceding the vote, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for the body to issue a "birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine".

Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said Israel was "prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state" but could not support the bid due to its national security concerns being insufficiently addressed.

Abbas did not shy away from mentioning the recent conflict in Gaza, which is governed by rival party Hamas, which unlike Abbas' Fatah party, does not recognize Israel. He said Israel's perpetrating of the strikes on Gaza showed its "immunity" from international accountability.

While his predecessor Ehud Olmert had come out in favor of the Palestinian bid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted by claiming that Abbas' words showed he did not want peace, according to Al-Jazeera.

SEE ALSO: Will There Ever Be Peace Between Israel And Gaza?

The result of Thursday's vote had been anticipated for some time, but Palestinian statehood being made official to its fullest extent yet set off celebrations in the West Bank. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

"Ahead of Thursday's vote, thousands of Palestinians from rival factions celebrated in the streets of the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority declared a half day of school and sent state employees home early. Roads were lined with the Palestinian flags and the Fatah party flag.

In Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, police blocked off the streets around the central Al Manara square, creating a large pedestrian mall. A nearby public stage was erected with the backdrop of Mr. Abbas' profile and that of former leader Yasser Arafat, with the words 'U.N. Palestinian State.'"

The vote was not held on any random date. Thursday marked the 65th anniversary of the U.N. approval of a plan to partition the then-British Mandate of Palestine between Jews and Arabs. Arab governments rejected the plan, which led to Israel's War of Independence and decades of statelessness for Palestinian communities.

Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of Palestine here.

Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.



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