The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-voting “non-member observer state” on Thursday in a move the U.S. and Israel sharply opposed.
The new status does not grant Palestine nationhood but is considered a major symbolic victory in Ramallah. NBC’s Martin Fletcher called it a “personal triumph” for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was weakened politically in the eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip. Palestine will now have the right to join international treaty bodies, which it may use to pursue Israel through the U.N.’s International Criminal Court for its practices in the occupied territories.
The General Assembly moved to upgrade Palestine’s status in a 138-to-9 vote with 41 members abstaining. The United States’ ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice called the move “unfortunate” and “counterproductive.” Speaking at the Brookings Institution Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. believes the resolution will “do nothing to advance the peace and the two-state solution we all want to see.”
The move is particularly symbolic because it comes on the 65th anniversary of the U.N. granting Israel the land to become a state.