Mahmoud Abbas signed more than a dozen international conventions, saying he took this course because Israel failed to release a group of Palestinian prisoners, as promised.
The Palestinians are looking for greater leverage against Israel on the international stage. But their decision prompted US Secretary of State John Kerry to cancel a trip to the region on Wednesday.
During a visit to Algeria, Kerry said negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis were at a critical moment.
For its part, the Israeli government said it had done all it could to try to reach a settlement with the Palestinians. Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said it is up to the Palestinians no to do more.
But how effective will Mahmoud Abbas's strategy be? And could it backfire?
Presenter: Sami Zeidan
Husam Zomlot: Senior foreign adviser for Fatah.
Gerald Steinberg: Professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan Univeristy
Ben White: Author of "Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy"