JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of Palestinians from rival factions have been celebrating in the streets of the West Bank today, ahead of a U.N. vote on a resolution calling for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
The vote won't immediately bring about independence, but Palestinians hope the strong international endorsement will give them more leverage in future negotiations with Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has support from the West, turned to the U.N. after four years of deadlock in Mideast peace efforts.
In a departure from their previous opposition, the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have said they won't interfere with the U.N. bid. Their supporters have joined in some of today's celebrations.
Abbas says there's been "tremendous" diplomatic pressure to abandon the move, but that he won't be deterred.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today warned the Palestinians that they won't win the statehood they've been hoping for until they recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, declare an end to their conflict with Israel and agree to security arrangements to protect Israel.
The Palestinians have refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, saying it would undermine the claims of Palestinian refugees.
177-a-11-(Rula Ma'ayah, Palestinian tourism minister, in AP interview)-"in the world"-Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Ma'ayah says this is an important day for Palestinians. (29 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *177 (11/29/12)>> 00:11 "in the world"
178-r-12-(Sound of Palestinian military marching band, in Bethlehem)--Sound of Palestinian military marching band in Bethlehem. (29 Nov 2012)
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029-w-34-(Mike Gracia, AP correspondent, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton)--The Palestinians are expected to win recognition as a state in the U.N. General Assembly today. AP correspondent Mike Gracia reports. (29 Nov 2012)
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GRAPHICSBANK: Benjamin Netanyahu, as Prime Minister of Israel, graphic element on gray (29 Nov 2012)
APPHOTO SEB104: A Palestinian girl waves a flag during a rally supporting the Palestinian U.N. bid for observer state status, in the West bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. The Palestinians are certain to win U.N. recognition as a state on Thursday but success could exact a high price: delaying an independent state of Palestine because of Israel's vehement opposition. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed) (29 Nov 2012)
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APPHOTO JRL126: Palestinians wave Fatah and Palestinian flags during a rally in support of the Palestinian UN bid for observer state status, in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. The Palestinians are certain to win U.N. recognition as a state Thursday in a General Assembly vote that Israel and the United States warn could delay hopes of achieving an independent Palestinian homeland through peace talks with Israel. Arabic on sign reads "Palestinian legitimacy symbol, hero of the battle for independence" and "Palestinian National Liberation Movement, Fatah, Gaza Strip." (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (29 Nov 2012)
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