Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has formally submitted a bid to the UN Secretary-General for recognition of Palestine as an independent sovereign state.
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Abbas handed over the application to Ban Ki-moon, despite strong opposition from the US and Israel over the move.
The request must now be considered by the UN Security Council.
The Palestinian state would comprise of the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as the capital.
Palestinians say they have been patient during two decades of peace talks with Israel that have yielded nothing, while Israel’s occupation continues and Jewish settlements grow on West Bank land.
The United States and Israel say a Palestinian state can only emerge through negotiations.
The application is set to fail since it is likely to be vetoed by the US, a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
To succeed it would need nine votes out of 15 with no veto.
The UK and France are expected to abstain since they cannot endorse UN membership for a state they have not recognised bilaterally.