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The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly to recognise a Palestinian state. The vote, which was taken at a meeting of the body in New York on Thursday, represents a long-sought victory for the Palestinians but a diplomatic defeat for the US, with 138 countries voting in favour of the upgrade. Nine countries including the US and Israel voted against it while 41 others abstained. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from New York.
The Palestinian bid for longed-for although indirect recognition as a state is expected to pass easily when presented to the 193-nation General Assembly in New York later. There are dissenters, though; a handful of states, including Israel and the US, are expected to vote against. US diplomats have made a last-ditch attempt to persuade Mahmoud Abbas to opt for dialogue with Israel.
Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip ended in a ceasefire last week with the final toll standing at around 170 Palestinians killed, and more than 700 wounded. Meanwhile in Israel, four Israeli civilians and two Israeli soldiers were killed, along with dozens of others wounded, in Palestinian attacks. We're joined from Cairo by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who has just returned to Cairo after several days in Gaza. "Gaza's damage is severe," Kouddous says.
Mikael Löfgren, media coordinator spokesman for the Estelle, spoke to Al Jazeera from Stockholm, Sweden about the how the Israeli Military boarded the Finnish ship, which was attempting to break the sea blockade of Gaza and deliver aid to its people.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of ethnic cleansing for building settlements in east Jerusalem. 'It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes,' Abbas said in his speech to the UN General Assembly.