UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is appealing to all nations to vote in favor of a U.N. resolution recognizing the state of Palestine as "an investment in peace."
In a statement ahead of today's General Assembly vote, Abbas says the Palestinians "remain committed" to a two-state solution to their conflict with Israel, adding: "our hand remains extended in peace."
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinians will have to back down from long-held positions if they ever hope to gain independence.
The United States, Israel's closest ally, mounted an aggressive campaign in hopes of heading off today's vote. In a last-ditch move yesterday, a U.S. official promised Abbas that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator next year if Abbas abandoned the effort to seek statehood. An aide to Abbas says the Palestinian leader refused.
Ahead of today's vote, thousands of Palestinians from rival factions celebrated in the streets of the West Bank.
The vote won't immediately bring independence, but the Palestinians see it as a historic step in their effort to win global recognition.
The non-member observer status of the Palestinians could also open the way for possible war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court.
177-a-11-(Rula Ma'ayah, Palestinian tourism minister, in AP interview)-"in the world"-Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Ma'ayah says this is an important day for Palestinians. (29 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *177 (11/29/12)>> 00:11 "in the world"
178-r-12-(Sound of Palestinian military marching band, in Bethlehem)--Sound of Palestinian military marching band in Bethlehem. (29 Nov 2012)
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095-a-11-(Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking alongside African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, with reporters)-"a two-state solution"-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is not in favor of today's expected vote at the U.N. for recognition of an independent Palestine. (29 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *095 (11/29/12)>> 00:11 "a two-state solution"
APPHOTO SEB104: A Palestinian girl waves a flag during a rally supporting the Palestinian U.N. bid for observer state status, in the West bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. The Palestinians are certain to win U.N. recognition as a state on Thursday but success could exact a high price: delaying an independent state of Palestine because of Israel's vehement opposition. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed) (29 Nov 2012)
<<APPHOTO SEB104 (11/29/12)>>
APPHOTO XBM102: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, greets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he arrives for a meeting on Palestine, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Palestinians are expected to win U.N. recognition as a state, even as the U.S., Israel's closest ally, mounts an aggressive campaign to head off the General Assembly vote. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) (1 Jan 2000)
<<APPHOTO XBM102 (01/01/00)>>