Will this change anything on the ground?
Without the acknowledgment of Israel and the U.S., the U.N.'s recognition of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 boundaries is largely a symbolic move.
But to Palestinians, that recognition constitutes an important endorsement of the legitimacy of their claim to statehood, said Scobbie, potentially strengthening their hand in talks with Israel on sticking points.
In terms of substantive gains, it will assist a Palestinian attempt to join the International Criminal Court and to be able to ask the body to investigate acts committed by Israel as potential war crimes.
In April, the ICC blocked a request to investigate the 2008-2009 Gaza war, saying it was up to other bodies to determine whether the Palestinians could be considered a state, which in turn would allow it to join the court.
"If Palestine gets statehood then makes a successful application to join the ICC, that could create problems for Israel because of the way it conducts military operations in the West Bank and Gaza," said Scobbie.
"If the ICC issues arrest warrants, those Israelis have limited choices of travel because states party to the ICC would be under obligation to arrest them if they landed on their territory."
What is Israel's position on the statehood bid?
Israel has said any Palestinian attempt to elevate their status at the U.N. would amount to a unilateral action that would pre-empt final-status peace talks. This, Israel says, would violate their previous commitment to resolve outstanding issues through negotiations.
Along with the U.S., it believes U.N. action does not take the place of direct negotiations.
According to U.K. media reports, Britain has told the Palestinians they will support their bid only if they make an understanding not to pursue Israel for war crimes in the ICC and to resume peace talks.
What do Western countries think?
France made news this week by saying it would vote in favor of the Palestinians' request, becoming one of more prominent European countries to take that position. Portugal, Spain and Switzerland also supported the Palestinians' bid. The United States and Britain oppose it.
The French, who were once considering two scenarios, on Thursday backed the statehood bid.
"The game is to be in a better position down the road with the Palestinians," said Elliott Abrams, a Middle East expert with the Council of Foreign Relations. "France wants to be able to better influence them."
Polls in most Europeans cities overwhelmingly support Palestinians and take a dim view of Israel, he said. That explains why Portugal, Spain and Switzerland also sided with France.
"It's all local politics in Europe," Abrams said. "A politician in European countries is going to have to ask, 'What do I gain by supporting the Israelis on this?' The answer is you don't gain anything in political terms."
The United States views the bid as a bad idea, Abrams said, but that's an easier position to take for a country that is geographically alone and strong individually. Plus, the U.S. supports Israel and believes the only way to achieve peace and improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians is at the negotiating table, Abrams said.