RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — Palestinians fired in the air, whistled and embraced each other in the West Bank and Gaza on Thursday after the General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state.
As the votes were cast, there was silence among the thousands gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah, which erupted with cheers of joy and chants of "God is greatest" when the 138-9 approval was announced.
"I'm happy they declared the state even though it's only a moral victory. There are a lot of sharks out there, but it feels good," 39-year-old Rashid al-Kor told AFP.
Nearby, Palestinian-American Laila Jaman was waving a handful of Palestinian flags and carrying a picture of US President Barack Obama and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
"I feel so good, I cannot describe my feelings, it's as if we reached the end of a dark tunnel. With a Palestinian state we are now united as a people and a leadership," she said breathlessly.
There were celebrations in cities across the West Bank, as well as in Gaza, where the Hamas government offered tepid support for the bid and allowed backers to express their solidarity with the move.
In Bethlehem, fireworks were shot into the night sky, and churches rang their bells at midnight to mark the occasion.