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 being stymied for full membership last year, when the United States announced it would veto their bid 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.
Full membership requires Security Council approval, with no vetoes. The non-member observer state status only required a majority vote of the General Assembly.
The vote granted 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 General Assembly chamber.
The historic vote came 65 years to the day after the U.N. General Assembly voted in 1947 to divide Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. Israel became a state but the Palestinians rejected the partition plan, and decades of tension and violence have followed.
Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer 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.