Ramallah: Having returned from New York with UN statehood recognition for Palestine on Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas received a rhapsodic welcome by an ecstatic Palestinian crowd of thousands who greeted him with chants a huge national flag made of balloons.
Abbas, whose popularity had taken a plunge in past months, was peeking from huge posters on nearby buildings as some 5,000 people thronged a square outside President’s headquarters in Ramallah.
A boisterous and cheering crowd hoisted Palestinian flags and gave Abbas a hero’s welcome for the victory in UN vote on upgradation of Palestine’s status.
"We now have a state," Abbas said triumphantly to thousands of cheering Palestininas.
"The world has said loudly, 'Yes to the state of Palestine,” added Abbas.
The moment of victory came for Palestinians on last Thursday when UN General Assembly recognised the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a non-member observer state.
The Palestinian bid, submitted by President Mahmoud Abbas, was approved by 138 UN members, while nine voted against and 41 abstained from voting. The bid faced fierce opposition from Israel and the US.
The move amounts to an implicit recognition of the Palestinian statehood and increases PA's chances of joining other UN bodies.
It also allows the Palestinian Authority to challenge the continuing construction of Israeli settlements on the occupied Palestinian land in the International Criminal Court.
In response to the move, an obviously agitated Israel decided to cut off a cash transfer to the financially troubled Palestinian Authority, following an earlier decision to build thousands of new homes in Jewish settlements.
Though, the Israeli reaction couldn’t dampen Palestinian celebrations, but officials at West Bank acknowledged they were undecided on what to do with their newfound status, and were waiting for upcoming Israeli elections and new ideas from President Barack Obama before deciding how to proceed.
On Sunday, the Israeli government delivered another blow, saying it would withhold more than $100 million in funds it transfers to the Palestinians each month.
The monthly transfers are crucial for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority to pay salaries to its tens of thousands of civil servants and security forces. Israel has taken similar measures in the past before eventually releasing the money.
The move to upgrade the Palestinians to a nonmember observer state does not change much on the ground, but it carries deep potential significance.
With Agency Inputs
Now we have a state: Abbas to cheering Palestinians
First Published: Monday, December 03, 2012, 10:25