The United Nations General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly backed a resolution recognising Palestine as qualified for full UN membership. The resolution, passed during an emergency session at the 49th meeting of the UN General Assembly, recommended that the UN Security Council “reconsider the matter favourably.”

The resolution, co-sponsored by the Maldives, saw 143 countries vote in favour of upgrading Palestine’s status at the UN, with nine voting against and 25 abstentions. Notably, Israel and the United States voted against the resolution.

The resolution was presented by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on behalf of the Arab Group, and the Maldives was among the first states to co-sponsor the draft resolution.

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes amidst a seven-month-long war initiated by Israel against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, actions that the UN considers illegal.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, warned that if the measure was approved, he expected the US to cut funding to the UN and its institutions per American law.

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, spoke passionately of a day when Palestine “takes its rightful place among free nations.” “We want peace, we want freedom,” Mansour told the assembly before the vote. “A yes vote is a vote for Palestinian existence, it is not against any state… It is an investment in peace.”

The resolution calls on the Security Council to reconsider the request for Palestine to become the 194th member of the UN. However, it does not grant Palestine full UN membership but recognises it as qualified to join.

The resolution emphasises that it is passed “on an exceptional basis and without setting a precedent,” discouraging other hopefuls like Kosovo or Taiwan from employing the same strategy at the UN.

In defence of their vote, the United States maintained its position that full Palestinian statehood and full UN membership should result from negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Robert A. Wood, US ambassador to the UN, stated that the resolution does not “resolve the concerns about the Palestine membership application raised in April at the Security Council.” The US also threatened to exercise its veto if the UN Security Council reconsiders its vote on Palestine’s member status.

France declared its support for Palestine’s admission as a full member. The Palestinians are a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012.

Since the beginning of its war on Gaza on 7 October, Israel has killed at least 34,904 Palestinians, majority of whom women and children, and wounded 78,514 others. Israeli forces have also destroyed nearly 75 percent of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, schools, and places of worship, while also blocking the entry of essential aid into the occupied enclave, pushing the population of 2.5 million people to starvation.