Abbas officially submits statehood application to UN

UN spokesman says Abbas handed UN chief a letter requesting full UN membership, which the Security Council must consider, and may take some time; Quartet still determined to restart negotiations.

September 23, 2011 18:57
2 minute read.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations

PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)

UNITED NATIONS - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations on Friday to recognize a state for his people, even though the United States has vowed to veto the move.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said Abbas handed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a letter requesting full UN membership, which the Security Council must consider -- although this may take some time.

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Israeli diplomatic officials said Thursday that Ban, however, will not immediately pass the request on, giving the Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and UN – time to come up with a statement agreed upon by both sides that would form the parameters for relaunching negotiations.

Abbas said that he was determined to submit the application despite heavy international pressure.

"It is not a secret that the US administration has done everything it could to prevent us from going (to the United Nations)," Abbas, 76, told reporters late on Thursday.

"But we're going without any hesitation and we will continue whatever the pressure ... because we are asking for our right, because we want our independent state," he added.

Abbas will set out his case in a speech to the UN General Assembly, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will also take the podium to argue that only direct negotiations between the two sides can lead to a Palestinian state.

US President Barack Obama, who told the United Nations a year ago he hoped Palestinians would have a state by now, said on Wednesday he shared frustration at the lack of progress.

But he said only Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, not actions at the United Nations, could bring peace -- despite a long history of fruitless peace talks.

Abbas is resorting to United Nations even though Israeli and US politicians have threatened financial reprisals that could cripple his Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank.

Should that happen, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said, the PA could dissolve itself, throwing responsibility for ruling the whole area back to Israel as the occupying power.

"We will invite you to become the only authority from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean," Erekat told Israel Radio.

Hamas officials in Gaza have also opposed the Palestinian Authority's move at the UN, saying they oppose any unilateral move by the PLO.

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