Recognition of Palestine by the general assembly would be a concrete step towards the realisation of the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace. It could also provide Palestinians with the opportunity to legally challenge Israeli settlement expansion and war crimes in forums such as the international criminal court.
Last year, a Palestinian Authority request for full statehood was blocked in the UN security council due to US opposition. But this year, the Palestinians are instead asking to be recognised as an non-member observer state, the same designation as the Vatican.
This recognition requires a majority vote in the general assembly, where unlike the security council, no country holds veto power. Both Palestine and Israel are pushing to secure key European support before the vote. But with a majority of countries having already voiced their support for a Palestinian state, they are considered likely to win.
Opinion polling shows that the majority of the European public supports a Palestinian state. Support from France and Spain for statehood is crucial in moving decisively past the era of failed peace talks and towards a secure, two-state future.
More support is needed ahead of the expected vote on Thursday: in particular, the UK, who has signalled it may vote in favour if Palestinian leaders agree to re-enter peace talks with Israel.
Sources: New York Times, El Pais, Haaretz, BBC, Guardian, Daily Mail