Last Thursday, Secretary of State candidate Susan Rice withdrew from consideration. Now, President Obama is expected to nominate Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts for the position. Kerry is the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and has extensive experience working with foreign governments as well as traveling. If nominated for Secretary of State and subsequently confirmed by the Senate, Kerry would vacate his Senate seat and the governor of Massachusetts would nominate a new Senator. A special election would then take place to decide who would accept Kerry's vacated seat in Congress.
On Thursday, November 29, the United Nations voted 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions) to upgrade Palestine's status as a "non-member observer entity" to a "non-member observer state," in spite of vehement opposition from the United States and Israel. This means that Palestine is now formally recognized as an independent state by the UN. However, Palestine is not a full member of the UN, because that would require a majority vote in the UN Security Council, of which the US is a prominent member. Any attempt to petition for full membership would be quickly blocked by the US.
This successful upgrade to statehood will most likely be followed by an effort for Palestine to become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, if Palestine joins the ICC, members of the Israeli military in West Bank and Gaza could be arrested and charged for acts committed in war zones.
The US was unilaterally opposed to Palestine's bid for statehood, due to support of Israel and the belief that only peaceful negotiation will help solve the conflict between the Hamas and Israel.