However, in the run-up to the U.N. vote, Abbas signaled that he wants recognition to give him leverage in future talks with Israel, and not as a tool for confronting or delegitimizing Israel, as Israeli leaders have claimed.
Speaking stridently at times Thursday, Abbas accused the Israelis of ‘‘colonial occupation’’ that institutionalizes racism and charged that the Jewish state is continuing to perpetuate ‘‘war crimes.’’
Still, he said the Palestinians did not come to terminate ‘‘what remains of the negotiations process’’ but to try ‘‘to breathe new life into the negotiations’’ and achieve an independent state.
‘‘We will act responsibly and positively in our next steps,’’ he said.
The Palestinians turned to the General Assembly after the United States announced it would veto their bid last fall for full U.N. membership until there is a peace deal with Israel. Abbas made clear that this remains the Palestinians’ ultimate goal — hopefully soon.
The vote grants the Palestinians the same status at the U.N. as the Vatican, and they will keep their seat next to the Holy See in the assembly chamber.
Associated Press writers Michael Astor and Peter Spielmann at the United Nations, Haitham Hamad and Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, Robert Burns and Bradley Klapper in Washington and Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem contributed to this report.