The UN general assembly has voted overwhelmingly to recognise Palestine as the world's 194th state. With over 130 countries voting in favour – including most of Europe – today marks a major step forward towards peace and justice in the Middle East.
Just weeks ago, the decision was expected to be substantially closer, with Israel and the US lobbying hard to deny Palestine key European support – a cynical attempt to delegitimise a favourable vote. But in the face of major public pressure and vigorous campaigning by the Avaaz community, countries such as France, Spain, Belgium and Sweden decided to vote yes to statehood for Palestine. Just nine countries voted no.
In total, 138 countries voted in support of the Palestinians, including most EU countries. Several countries that had been expected to vote no, such as Germany and Australia, chose instead to abstain, paving the way for the overwhelming endorsement of statehood.
In a remarkable admission, an Israeli official speaking to Haaretz before the vote said, "We lost Europe."
The UN general assembly's recognition of Palestine today marks a historic and hopeful moment for a tragic conflict. It establishes the states of Israel and Palestine as sovereign neighbours and legal equals, and rescues the two-state solution from imminent demise. With Europe and the new Middle East signalling their determination to resolve this conflict, the balance of power has shifted away from US and Israeli hegemony – and the promise of two states, living peacefully side by side, is closer.
Read more: Here's why winning UN recognition is a very big deal for Palestine – and the benefits it will bring.