Posted at: 11/29/2012 4:43 PM
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Palestinians have erupted in wild cheers, hugging each other and honking car horns after the United Nations voted to grant them, at least formally, what they have long yearned for - a state of their own.
In the central celebration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds crowding into the main square waved Palestinian flags and chanted "God is great" after the U.N. General Assembly vote.
It accepted "Palestine" as a non-member observer state with a vote of 138 in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions.
The decision won't immediately change lives here, since much of what the world body is defining as the territory of that state - the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem - remains under Israeli control. Yet many Palestinians savored the global recognition.
Ahead of the statehood vote, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly that it "is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine." Abbas said the vote is the last chance to save the two-state solution.
Clinton: UN vote for Palestine hurts peace hopes
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has criticized the United Nations' recognition of Palestine for creating "further obstacles in the path to peace" between Palestinians and Israelis.
Speaking at a conference in Washington, Clinton called the resolution approved Thursday "unfortunate and counterproductive."
She said the U.S. believes that "only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel."
Lawmakers threaten cutoff of Palestinian aid
A bipartisan group of senators is warning the Palestinians that they could lose U.S. financial aid and face the shutdown of the Washington office if they use upgraded U.N. status against Israel.
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and John Barrasso and Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez said Thursday that they would push for an amendment to the defense bill on the Palestinians. The announcement came just hours before a likely vote in the United Nations recognizing the Palestinians as a state.
The legislation would cut off U.S. aid if the Palestinians use their newfound status to file charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Unwillingness to conduct meaningful negotiations with Israel would result in the closing of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's office in Washington.
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