The UN General Assembly has decided to upgrade Palestine from an observer to non-member status.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was one of many overjoyed inside the Assembly gathering in New York.
The one hundred and ninety-three member states voted overwhelmingly in favour, with a hundred and thirty-eight saying ‘yes’, forty-one abstentions and nine saying ‘no’ – the most noticeable of which came from Israel and the US.
Speaking before the ballot, Abbas criticised Israel for the recent violence in Gaza. However, he also said: “We are not here to take away the legitimacy of a state, which has existed for decades – that is Israel. We are here to ask for legitimacy for a state which has to born the soon as possible – and that is Palestine. We are asking the world one direct question today – are we considered an extra people which has no place in the region?”
Unlike at the Security Council, where the bid for Palestinian full membership was blocked last year, there’s no veto in the General Assembly and the two thirds majority vote needed was easily accomplished.
Even before voting began, there were celebrations on the streets of Ramallah. Now Palestinians are more happy following a decision they imagine could bring them a step closer to an independent state. Perhaps it is fitting that the ballot that went in their favour was held on Palestinian Solidarity Day.