RAMALLAH, West Bank (November 29, 2012)--Palestinians erupted in wild cheers, hugging each other and honking car horns after the United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday to grant them, at least formally, what they have long yearned for, a state of their own.
In the central celebration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds crowding into the main square waved Palestinian flags and chanted "God is great" after the U.N. General Assembly vote, accepting "Palestine" as a non-member observer state.
The vote was 138 in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions.
The decision won't immediately change lives here, since much of what the world body is defining as the territory of that state, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, remains under Israeli control. Yet many Palestinians savored the global recognition.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the United Nations' recognition of Palestine for creating "further obstacles in the path to peace" between Palestinians and Israelis.
Speaking at a conference in Washington, Clinton called the resolution approved Thursday "unfortunate and counterproductive."
She said the U.S. believes that "only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel."