UNITED NATIONS (UPDATED) - The United States said the UN vote upgrading Palestine's status on Thursday, November 29, creates "obstacles" to peace between the Palestinians and Washington's close ally Israel.
"Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it," the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told the UN General Assembly.
The United States and Israel were among just 9 countries bucking global support for a resolution giving Palestine non-member observer status at the UN.
Canada also opposed the move.
Canada's UN ambassador, John Baird, said that giving Palestine non-member observer status -- a largely symbolic advance on the path to full UN membership -- "undermines the core" of attempts to broker a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.
"That approach can only result in the steady erosion and collapse of the very foundations of a process which -- while incomplete -- holds the only realistic chance to bring about two peaceful, prosperous states living side-by-side as neighbors," he said ahead of the vote.
The UN General Assembly backed non-member observer status for Palestine by an overwhelming vote of 138 against nine, with 41 abstentions.
Rice dismissed the importance of the historic, if largely symbolic UN vote.
"Today's grand announcements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow to find little of their lives has changed, save (that) the prospects of a durable peace have receded," she said.
"This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state," she said, echoing an earlier speech by the ambassador to Israel. "Today's vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for UN membership."
Rice said that "only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and the Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve." - Agence France-Presse