Palestine granted upgraded UN status

  • The United Nations General Assembly voted on Thursday to grant Palestine non-member observer state status.

    The decision is one that has been strongly opposed by Israel and the United States.

    Speaking after the announcement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the assembly the vote was the "last chance to save the two-state solution" with Israel.

    On the flipside, Israel's envoy to the UN said the bid had pushed peace process "backwards" while the U.S. labeled the move as "unfortunate".

    Hundreds of Palestinians celebrated on the streets of Ramallah, in the West Bank, after the result was announced.

    Critics of the bid believe a Palestinian state should emerge only out of bilateral negotiations, as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords under which the Palestinian Authority was established.

    The United Kingdom and Germany abstained from the vote while the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands and Panama were among the nations voting with the U.S. and Israel.

    Palestine was seeking to be admitted as a non-member observer state based on boundaries that existed before Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war.

    The move will enable the Palestinians to participate in debates at the UN and improve their chances of joining UN agencies and bodies like the International Criminal Court.