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Palestine wins UN observer-state vote

The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly to recognise a Palestinian state.
The resolution upgrading the Palestinians' status to a nonmember observer state at the United Nations was approved by a more than two-thirds majority of the 193-member world body - a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions.
A Palestinian flag was quickly unfurled on the floor of the General Assembly, behind the Palestinian delegation.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds crowded into the main square and waved Palestinian flags and chanted "God is great".
Others who had crowded around outdoor screens and television sets to watch the vote hugged and set off fireworks before dancing in the streets.
Real independence, however, remains an elusive dream until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis, who warned that the General Assembly action would delay a lasting solution.
Israel still controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and access to Gaza, and it accused the Palestinians of bypassing negotiations with the campaign to upgrade their UN status.
The United States criticised the historic vote. "Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path peace," US ambassador at the UN Ambassador Susan Rice said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote "unfortunate" and "counterproductive."
The United States and Israel voted against recognition, joined by Canada, the Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the General Assembly shortly before the vote "defamatory and venomous", saying it was "full of mendacious propaganda" against Israel. He called the vote meaningless.
Abbas had told the General Assembly it was "being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine".
Abbas said the vote was the last chance to save the two-state solution.
After the vote, Netanyahu said the UN move violated past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and that Israel would act accordingly.
It has previously hinted at an economic reaction.
Just before the vote, Israel's UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that "the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace" and that the UN can't break the 4000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.
The vote had been certain to succeed, with most of the member states sympathetic to the Palestinians. Several countries, including France, this week announced they would support the move to elevate the Palestinians from the status of UN observer to nonmember observer state.
Thursday's vote came on the same date, November 29, that the UN General Assembly in 1947 voted to recognise a state in Palestine, with the jubilant revellers then Jews. The Palestinians rejected that partition plan, and decades of tension and violence have followed.
The vote grants Abbas an overwhelming international endorsement for his key position: establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 six-day war.
The vote could help Abbas restore some of his standing, which has been eroded by years of standstill in peace efforts.
His rival, Hamas, deeply entrenched in Gaza, has seen its popularity rise in that time.
The Palestinians now can gain access to UN agencies and international bodies, most significantly the International Criminal Court.
In the run-up to the UN vote, Abbas signalled that he wanted recognition to give him leverage in future talks with Israel, and not as a tool for confronting or delegitimising Israel, as Israeli leaders have alleged.