Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip celebrated into the early
hours Friday morning after the United Nations General Assembly endorsed
the Palestinian Authority's bid to upgrade its status to that of a
non-member observer state.
Palestinians said the large number of U.N. members, 138, that voted for
them Thursday, added legitimacy to their claim for statehood. They say
the vote adds weight to their position in the peace negotiations with
Nine states, including Israel and the United States, opposed the
resolution. Forty-one, including Britain and Germany, abstained. The bid
was endorsed by a large number of European Union members.
On Friday in East Jerusalem, Muslim worshippers streamed through
Damascus gate for prayers. The mood seemed relaxed. Israeli security
forces were present but less visible than on most Fridays.
Retired Palestinian Authority civil servant Mohammed Faqih said while
the vote did not change much for daily Palestinian life, it was still
cause for celebration. He said he found joy in that it is the first time
the international community has recognized Palestinians' right to
Fruit juice vendor Ibrahim Abdullah said it brought hope for the future.
He said he hopes this will bring some good and that the situation in the
Mideast will remain peaceful and quiet.
Many Palestinians said they hoped the vote would bring a resumption of
peace negotiations with Israel that have been stalled for months.
But a local leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, Abu Daoud, said
the vote accomplished little because he believes land currently
controlled by Israel belongs to the Palestinians.
"I am very happy the nations [of the world] spoke to us and [recognized]
our rights," he said. "But our right is Tel Aviv."
Many Israelis see the U.N. action as furthering divisions.
In West Jerusalem, an Israeli student named Irma — who does not want to
use her last name — said the U.N. decision worried her because it will
strengthen militant Palestinians.
"They will have more power and they will attack us more and more," she
said. "And there will be a war, or something."
few hours before Thursday's U.N. vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu said it would not affect the stalemated peace negotiations
with the Palestinians.
He said Israelis should not overreact because no matter how many hands
are raised against Israel, there is no force in the world that can push
him to compromise on the security of Israel.
But Israeli documentary filmmaker Noam Kuzar does not agree.
"I think the government policy does not reflect what all the people
want," he said. "The people just want to live their daily lives, to have
their own security and salary and education and health. And other than
that the politicians are talking high but not promoting things on the