A year after failing to win United Nations recognition as an independent state, the Palestinian Authority achieved what is perhaps a largely symbolic though notable status change on Thursday by way of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
The body decided that their "non-member observer entity" status should instead be "non-member observer state," similar to the Vatican, giving Palestinians a certain implicit degree of statehood recognition.
The following answers a list of frequently asked questions that may help clarify this relatively unique scenario.
What is the Palestinians' former status at the U.N.?
The Palestinians had had "permanent observer" status at the U.N. since 1974, when the Palestine Liberation Organization was recognized as an observer, a position which is not defined in the U.N.'s charter.
The mission, which subsequently became officially referred to as "Palestine" within the U.N. system, was in 1998 granted privileges that had previously been held only by member states. These included the rights to participate in general debate at the start of the General Assembly and to co-sponsor resolutions, giving the delegation a unique status, somewhere between observer and member.
What does the new status mean?
The new recognition the Palestinians obtained is a formal upgrade from observer entity that would implicitly recognize Palestinian statehood. It places the Palestinians in the same category as the Vatican. Switzerland was also a non-member observer state for more than 50 years until 2002.
Haven't the Palestinians tried this before without success?
In 2011, the Palestinians launched a bid for recognition as a full member of the U.N. But the effort stalled when it became apparent that the bid was not going to receive the requisite nine of 15 Security Council votes, and the U.S. promised to veto it if it came to a vote.
However, unlike a bid for full membership, recognition as a non-member state only requires winning a majority vote among the 193 members of the General Assembly. There is no threat of a Security Council veto.
According to the PLO, more than 130 of the U.N.'s 193 members already recognize Palestinian statehood through bilateral relations.
"It would then be seen as being a state in terms of international law and international relations," Iain Scobbie, the Sir Joseph Hotung Research Professor in Law at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, told CNN.
"But it wouldn't be a U.N. member, because they cannot get a membership vote through the Security Council."
The Palestinians have said they have not abandoned their application to become a full U.N. member state, but it is suspended at present.
Who was behind the move?
The statehood bid was driven by the Palestinian Authority, whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, is also chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank, one of two Palestinian territories, but has virtually no sway in Gaza, run by Hamas, Fatah's Islamist rivals who were recently locked in conflict with Israel.
The Palestinian Authority -- which was not a party to the recent conflict with Israel -- has come to be widely viewed as sidelined by Hamas in terms of the effectiveness of its recent strategies in dealing with Israel.
Hamas has also criticized Abbas's previous efforts to pursue Palestinian statehood at the U.N. but has reportedly said it supported Thursday's bid and that reconciliation talks with Fatah will take place after the U.N. vote.
"There are talks going on between Hamas and Fatah to realign themselves," said Scobbie. "They'd argue that separate political control over the two territories doesn't really matter that much."
Why did this happen now?
The statehood bid is thought to have emerged as a strategy after the lack of progress in peace talks, which stalled in 2010 over disagreements on the issue of Israeli West Bank settlements.
The Palestinian Authority leadership said it launched its initial bid for U.N. membership in response to the lapsing of the September 2011 deadline set by U.S. President Barack Obama for the successful negotiation with Israel for a two-state solution.
It has also argued that in recent years it has made great strides toward meeting the criteria of a sovereign state, pointing to the improvements in governance, security and physical infrastructure as indicators of their readiness.