The Security Council has begun considering a formal application for the Palestinian people to become a full member of the United Nations.
President Mahmoud Abbas submitted the application in the face of American and Israeli opposition.
If the move secures the necessary votes in the Security Council, the United States is expected to veto the resolution.
Diplomats say it could be a month or more before the council is ready to vote.
The Palestinians need the support of nine of the 15 members of the council, but if they do not get that number the issue may not even come to a vote and the US could avoid the embarrassment of a veto, the BBC reports.
Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia are seen as the swing states and will be coming under pressure from the US and the Palestinians in the coming weeks.
Mr Abbas last week urged the Security Council in New York to back a state with pre-1967 borders. Israel reiterated its call for peace talks without preconditions.
Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled in September 2010. The Palestinians walked out in protest at the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.