Despite threats from both the U.S. and Israel, Palestine has secured membership of UNESCO after 107 of the 173 attending member states voted in favour of its membership bid. 14 of the delegates voted against the move, while 52 abstained, including Britain.

Cheers erupted in the chamber as the result of the vote was announced, with one delegate shouting "Long Live Palestine!" in French. Israel, unsurprisingly, has criticised the decision, calling it "tragic."

"It's good news. It's another step in the right direction," said Husam Zomlot, a PLO member and former ambassador. "We're marching towards full status in the international system."

The news makes UNESCO the first UN body to recognise Palestine's right to statehood, following attempts by the U.S. and Israel to block a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member state last month.

The General Assembly is due to vote on the statehood bid by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in November, when the U.S. says it will use its veto. But the United States does not have veto power at UNESCO, although it has threatened to cut funding to any UN body that admits Palestine as a full member following a U.S. law passed in the 1990s.

The U.S. currently supplies $70 million (£43.7m) a year in funding to the cultural body - amounting to 22 per cent of UNESCO's entire budget.

Admission to UNESCO is widely seen by Palestinian as a moral victory in their bid for international recognition. But it is only a small victory in the long process to secure statehood for the Palestinians, who have been living under an illegal Israeli military occupation for nearly half a century.