The U.N. General Assembly voted today to approve Palestinians’ request to be upgraded to a “non-member observer state,” defying opposition by the U.S. and Israel.
Before the vote, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the General Assembly that it “is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.”
Of the 193 countries in the General Assembly 138 voted to recognize Palestine. Only nine, including the U.S., voted against it. Another 41 countries abstained.
In the West Bank, Palestinians erupted in a roar of cheers, horn honking and fireworks as crowds thronged the main square of Ramallah to celebrate the world’s recognition of their state.
The historic vote recognizes Palestine as a state and gives Palestine the right to join U.N. agencies. It opens the door for Palestine to become a party to the International Criminal Court, allowing them to bring cases against Israel.
Israel and the U.S. argued that the vote is purely symbolic, would change nothing on the ground, would hurt peace talks and could affect U.S. funding.
Most European countries were expected to side with the Palestinians in this dispute.
The only countries voting against the resolution besides the United States and Israel were Canada, the Czech Republic and some Pacific Island states.
U.S. allies France, Sweden and Italy all voted for the resolution, as did countries where the U.S. is expected to hold sway like Mexico, Afghanistan, India and Iraq.
Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom all stayed out of the fray, preferring to abstain.