The Palestinians have initiated moves to join 15 UN agencies, causing yet another blow to the stalling peace process.
One implication of the move is that it could become easier for Palestinians to prosecute Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court.
In response, US Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled a visit to Ramallah to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, calling on both sides to show “restraint”.
The Palestinians said they had no other choice but to retaliate against the Israeli decision not to release the last group of 26 Palestinian prisoners last Saturday.
In an interview with Reuters, PA negotiator Mohammaed Shtayyeh said: “I don't see that the Palestinians had anything else to do. What are they expected to do?
“Going to some UN agencies does not mean it is stopping the process,” he said. “But we need a serious partner...for us it's a matter of dignity, Palestinian dignity.”