Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas returned to the West Bank yesterday after winning upgraded UN status for the Palestinians, telling cheering crowds: "Yes, now we have a state."
"Palestine has accomplished a historic achievement at the UN," Abbas added, three days after the United Nations General Assembly granted the Palestinians non-member state observer status in a 138-9 vote.
"The world said in a loud voice... yes to the state of Palestine, yes to Palestine's freedom, yes to Palestine's independence, no to aggression, no to settlements, no to occupation," Abbas told the ecstatic crowd.
Abbas pledged that after the victory at the United Nations, his "first and most important" task would be working to achieve Palestinian unity and reviving efforts to reconcile rival factions Fatah and Hamas.
"We will study over the course of the coming days the steps necessary to achieve reconciliation," he said, as the crowd chanted "The people want the end of the division."
The return was a moment of triumph for Abbas, who last year tried and failed to win the Palestinians full state membership at the United Nations.
The move gives the Palestinians access to a range of international institutions, including potentially the International Criminal Court, and raises their international profile after years of stalled peace talks with Israel.
While the Palestinians have expressed satisfaction and joy over the success of the bid, it has not been without repercussions.
Washington has warned it could withhold funds to the already cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, and Israel said Sunday it would not transfer millions of dollars it collects in tax funds for the Palestinians in response to the UN bid.
And on Friday, Israel revealed plans to build 3,000 settler homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank in response to the bid.