Palestinians celebrate ahead of UN vote

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JERUSALEM (AP) – Thousands of Palestinians from rival factions have been celebrating in the streets of the West Bank today, ahead of a U.N. vote on a resolution calling for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

The vote won’t immediately bring about independence, but Palestinians hope the strong international endorsement will give them more leverage in future negotiations with Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has support from the West, turned to the U.N. after four years of deadlock in Mideast peace efforts.

In a departure from their previous opposition, the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have said they won’t interfere with the U.N. bid. Their supporters have joined in some of today’s celebrations.

Abbas says there’s been “tremendous” diplomatic pressure to abandon the move, but that he won’t be deterred.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today warned the Palestinians that they won’t win the statehood they’ve been hoping for until they recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, declare an end to their conflict with Israel and agree to security arrangements to protect Israel.

The Palestinians have refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, saying it would undermine the claims of Palestinian refugees.

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