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Early Thursday evening, even after some last-minute diplomatic swings, and one very confusing diplomatic tweet, Palestine easily won a vote in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions), changing its status from "entity" to "non-member state" — just like the Vatican. Mahmoud Abbas even called for the UN to issue a Palestinian birth certificate. So what's the big deal?

  • "Non-Member State" Is Actually a Pretty Good Title to Have: The biggest thing about getting recognized is that there's a big difference between "entity" and "non-member state" — even though semantics would say there's no discernible different. Neither one of those sounds like a positive assurance of anything, really. But "non-member state" is significant because "It places them on the path to full recognition as a member-state of the UN, and allows it to join UN agencies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague," reports NBC News's Martin Fletcher. Obviously becoming the member-state is the end-goal here and it's something they failed to achieve last year, but...
  • The ICC Membership Is a Big Deal: Non-member states are allowed access to more international bodies, but the ICC might be one Palestine is looking at joining. If they join the ICC, they could, as Fletcher notes, open "the way for possible war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court." The success of all that going down and happening is another story and another can of worms altogether, but setting the foundation in the ICC would be something Palestine wasn't able to do as an "entity."
  • European Support Is Crucial: "A strong backing from European nations could make it awkward for Israel to implement harsh retaliatory measures," writes Reuters. "Diplomats say Israel wants to avoid antagonising Europe," the report adds. Today's vote goes a long way in clipping Israel's actions. 
  • But Let's Keep This in Perspective: "And although this appears like a Palestinian victory, analysts here point out that whatever Mahmoud Abbas has achieved in the United Nations today is less than Palestinians were offered 65 years ago," reports Fletcher. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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