Tens of thousands of Palestinians erupted into cheers of victory across the West Bank on Friday as their President handed over a request for full United Nations membership.
In central Ramallah, Arafat Square roared its approval with whistles and raucous cheering when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose speech was broadcast on giant television screens, announced the bid had been submitted.
“Abbas, we are your people and you truly make us raise our heads high,” they shouted. “With our souls and our blood, we will defend Palestine.”
Similar sights played out across the rest of the West Bank, where tens of thousands of people turned out to watch Mr. Abbas' speech.
“There are tens of thousands of people who are now in the centre of the main cities like Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus,” security services spokesman Adnan Damiri told AFP.
In Hebron, crowds cheered as a huge balloon decorated with a Palestinian flag and a picture of Mr. Abbas was released above them into the night.
Waving their national flag, the exuberant crowd chanted “Palestine 194” in reference to their bid to become the 194th member state of the United Nations.
Ahead of Mr. Abbas' speech, the mood was festive, with dancing and singing and plenty of noisy celebration. But as he approached the U.N. podium to address the General Assembly, crowds in cities across the West Bank fell silent.
They listened, waiting for the moment he would officially announce he had handed over the request for the U.N. to accept Palestine as a full member state — and then they went wild.
At the end of the speech, the crowd again began to cheer, parents boosting their children onto their shoulders and posing for pictures by giant posters featuring Mr. Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat.