The UK abstained from voting in Thursday's vote on the status of Palestine, and U.N. Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant explained why.

"The United Kingdom is gravely concerned about the dangerous impasse in the peace process over the last two years. We believe that the window to a two-state solution is rapidly closing.

"Our central objective is to achieve a return to credible negotiations in order to secure a two-state solution. This is the guiding principle that determined how we voted on the resolution today.

"In support of this objective, we sought a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to return immediately to negotiations without preconditions. This was the single most important factor in shaping our vote. We also sought an assurance from the Palestinians that they would not pursue immediate action in U.N. agencies and the International Criminal Court, since that would make a swift return to negotiations impossible.

"We are in no doubt that President Abbas is a courageous man of peace, and we have engaged intensively with the Palestinians ahead of today’s vote to try to secure these assurances. But in the absence of these assurances, we were not been able to vote in favour of the resolution and therefore abstained.

"Mr. President, our priority now is to try to restart negotiations. We urge all parties, including Israel, to avoid taking steps in response to today’s events that could damage the peace process.

"Palestine will be a nonmember Observer State in the United Nations from this date onward. But this does not change the situation on the ground. The only way to give the Palestinian people the state that they need and deserve, and to give the Israeli people the security and peace that they are entitled to, is through a negotiated two-state solution.

"We look to the United States, with the strong and active support of the United Kingdom and the international community, to do all it can in the coming weeks and months to take a decisive lead in restarting negotiations, and we look to the Israelis and Palestinians to be ready to enter into such talks."