The United States criticises the UN general assembly's vote to upgrade the status of Palestine as "unfortunate and counterproductive".

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The United Nations general assembly agreed to recognise a Palestinian state, despite the UK abstaining in the vote and fierce opposition from the United States.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would "respect" the vote. He said: "We continue to believe that the prospects for a swift return to negotiations on a two state solution - the only way to create a Palestinian state on the ground - would be greater today if President (Mahmoud) Abbas had been able to give the assurances we suggested, and without which we were unable to vote in favour of the resolution.

"In particular, we called on President Abbas to set out a willingness to return to negotiations without preconditions, and to signal that the Palestinians would not immediately seek action in the international criminal court, which would be likely to make a return to negotiations impossible.

Read more: Palestinian recognition - key questions

'Counterproductive resolution'

Outoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "Before I begin I want to say a few things about the unfortunate and counterproductive resolution at the United Nations' general assembly that just passed because it places further obstacles in the path to peace.

"We have been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace they both deserve: two states for two people with a sovereign, viable independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel."

The vote followed almost a week of violence in the Gaza strip which saw more than 100 people killed including Ahmed al-Jabaari, head of the military wing of Hamas.

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