The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to bestow a "non-member observer state" status to the Palestinians, a symbolic step forward in the Palestinians' drive to create their own nation-state. The move was opposed by the U.S. and Israel, which have argued that direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis are the only legitimate way to reach a two-state solution. The upgrade in status means the Palestinians can now join the International Criminal Court and become members of certain U.N. agencies. Going through the U.N. has largely been the project of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (pictured), who has recently lost stature among Palestinians following a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the PA's more militant rival.
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