The United States and Israel were among just nine countries bucking global support for a resolution giving Palestine non-member observer status at the UN.
Rice dismissed the importance of the historic, if largely symbolic UN vote.
"Today's grand announcements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow to find little of their lives has changed, save (that) the prospects of a durable peace have receded," she said.
"This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state," she said, echoing an earlier speech by the ambassador to Israel. "Today's vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for UN membership."
Rice said that "only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and the Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve."