(UNITED NATIONS) — The United Nations has voted to move Palestine a small step closer to statehood. Despite opposition from the United States and Israel, an overwhelming majority of UN member states Thursday approved a resolution giving Palestine non-member observer state status in the assembly, an upgrade that falls short of full UN membership.
For the resolution’s passage, 138 voted in favor, nine voted against, and 41 UN members abstained from voting.
The resolution’s supporters saw its passage as a step toward a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. However, the U.S. joined with Israel to vote against the measure. Immediately after the resolution was passed, U.S. and Israeli leadership explained their “no” votes.
“This is a meaningless decision that will not change anything on the ground. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that there will be no establishment of a Palestinian state without a settlement that ensures the security of Israel’s citizens,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement after the vote.
The statement continued, saying that Netanyahu “will not allow a base for Iranian terrorism to be established in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], in addition to those that have [already] been established in Gaza and Lebanon.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu believes peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah can only be achieved through direct negotiations “and not in one-sided UN decisions,” and that “by going to the UN, the Palestinians have violated the agreements with Israel and Israel will react accordingly,” the statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote “unfortunate” in a speech she was giving on foreign policy in the U.S.
Ambassador Susan Rice agreed, adding that the move was counterproductive to the peace process.
“Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it,” Rice said Thursday.
Rice warned that Thursday’s vote should not be seen as a constitution of eligibility for UN membership.
“This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state,” she said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN