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In the Gaza Strip, Mr. Abbas’ rival, the militant Hamas government, also praised the UNESCO decision, saying that Hamas’ confrontational approach toward Israel was behind the vote.

“It also indicates that the Palestinian cause is getting more support while American policy is regressing,” Hamas official Salah Bardawil said.

UNESCO, like other U.N. agencies, is a part of the world body but has separate membership procedures and can make its own decisions about which countries belong. Full U.N. membership is not required for membership in many of the U.N. agencies.

Monday’s vote is definitive, and the membership formally takes effect when Palestine signs UNESCO’s founding charter.

Israel’s outspoken foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said before the vote that if it passed, Israel should cut off ties with the Palestinian Authority. It was not clear whether he was voicing an individual opinion or government policy. He has a history of making comments embarrassing to the prime minister.

In an address to parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly criticized the Palestinians move.

“Unfortunately, the Palestinians continue to refuse to negotiate with us. Instead of sitting around the negotiating table, they have decided to form an alliance with Hamas and take unilateral steps at the U.N., including today,” Mr. Netanyahu said. He warned his government would “not sit quietly.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is up to member states “to ensure the United Nations system as a whole a consistent political and financial support.”

“As such, we will need to work on tactical solutions to preserve UNESCO’s financial resources,” he said. He urged a negotiated solution to Mideast peace.

Ghasan Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian government in the West Bank, urged the United States to keep UNESCO funding.

“We look at this vote as especially important because part of our battle with the Israeli occupation is about the occupation attempts to erase the Palestinian history or Judaizing it. The UNESCO vote will help us to maintain the Palestinian traditional heritage,” he said.

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, called the vote a tragedy. “They’ve forced a drastic cut in contributions to the organization,” he said.

UNESCO deals in science, not science fiction,” he said. “They forced on UNESCO a political subject out of its competence.”

Associated Press writers Angela Charlton in Paris; Dalia Nammari in Ramallah, West Bank; Edith Lederer at the United Nations; and Joe Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this article.