The Palestinians turned to the U.N. after two decades of on-again, off-again talks undermined by violence and a failure of will. They reject Israel's claim that the recognition bid is an attempt to dictate the future borders of Palestine.
Instead, they say, it's a last-ditch attempt to rescue peace efforts threatened by Israeli settlement building on occupied land. Since 1967, half a million Israelis have settled on lands the U.N. says are part of Palestine.
Abbas aides say that with its vote, the U.N. is rebuffing Israeli attempts to portray these territories as "disputed," or up for grabs, rather than occupied.
Abbas aide Nabil Shaath said it will no longer be up to Israel to decide whether the Palestinians can have a state.
"The notion that Israel should approve the Palestinians' inalienable right to self-determination is simply illogical, immoral, and totally unacceptable," he wrote in an opinion piece in the Israeli daily Haaretz.
The endorsement of the pre-1967 line as the border of Palestine also poses a direct challenge to Netanyahu, who has refused to accept that demarcation as a basis for border talks with the Palestinians. Abbas and his aides have said the Israeli leader's rejection of such a framework for negotiations, accepted by his predecessors, helped push them to go to the U.N.
The Palestinians could also gain access to U.N. agencies and international bodies, most significantly the International Criminal Court, which could become a springboard for going after Israel for alleged war crimes or its ongoing settlement building on war-won land.
However, Abbas has signaled that he wants recognition to give him leverage in future talks with Israel, not as a tool for confronting or delegitimizing Israel, as Israeli leaders have alleged. He told the U.N. on Thursday that the Palestinians will "behave in a responsible and positive ways in our next steps."
Palestinian technical teams have studied the laws of all U.N. agencies and put together recommendations for Abbas, said a Palestinian official involved in the effort.
He said Abbas told the experts there is no rush, and the next Palestinian moves would in part depend on international reaction, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose internal deliberations.
Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said Friday that the Palestinians will now sit down to sort out their priorities. She said reconciliation between Abbas and Hamas is the most urgent requirement, but suggested it's unlikely Abbas, even though strengthened by U.N. recognition, would resume negotiations with Israel without a settlement freeze.
"We don't want flawed and counterproductive negotiations," she said.
Most immediately, the Palestinian Authority, which relies heavily on foreign aid and is struggling with the worst cash crisis in its 18-year history, could face further funding cuts over the U.N. bid.
In Washington, a bipartisan group of senators warned the Palestinians they could lose U.S. financial support of millions of dollars a year and risk the shutdown of their Washington office if they use their enhanced U.N. status against Israel
Israel could also suspend the monthly transfer of millions of dollars in tax rebates it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, a punitive step it has taken in the past.
Associated Press writer Dalia Nammari in Ramallah, West Bank, and Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City contributed reporting.
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