Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday affirmed his
determination to upgrade the Palestinian status at the UN by asking its General
Assembly to designate the Palestinians as a nonmember observer
Such a move, Abbas said, would salvage the two-state solution and
“confront [Israel’s] settlement onslaught.”
Addressing supporters in
Ramallah during a rally marking the eighth anniversary of the death of his
predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Abbas acknowledged that the PA has been facing
tremendous pressure to prevent it from pursuing the unilateral bid, the success
of which would be viewed as UN acceptance of Palestine as a state.
are under pressure from several parties to make us backtrack on this right,”
Abbas said. “But we will not backtrack. We are going in November
Referring to the US and other countries that oppose the bid, Abbas
said, “We want to ask all those who have endorsed the Israeli stance: Aren’t you
opposed to settlements? Didn’t you vote in the Security Council and the General
Assembly against Israel’s decision to annex Jerusalem? Didn’t the UN vote in
favor of [General Assembly] Resolution 194, which guarantees the right of return
of refugees to their homes? Didn’t you support the two-state solution and ending
occupation, which began in 1967?”
Abbas said that the Palestinians were facing a
“tough mission and big challenges” because of their insistence on the status
upgrade this month.
“You can’t imagine how much pressure we are facing,”
he added. “Our people are entitled to enjoy freedom after many years of
injustice and bitter suffering. We are the last people under
Addressing Israelis, Abbas said, “Your security depends on a
just peace with us, because we are serious. If we achieve our rights, we will
live with you in security and peace.
“We are here to stay on our lands.
There will be no new emigration of Nakba [an Arabic term meaning “catastrophe”
that refers to the war in 1948 after Israel declared independence]. Stop
the settlements that are killing the two-state solution,” he said.
urged the Palestinians to be patient, and not to be afraid of the repercussions
of the statehood bid.
He admitted that the Palestinians would face “grave
consequences” if they insisted on pursuing the statehood bid.
homeland is more important,” he declared.
Echoing Arafat’s well-known
words, Abbas pledged to “continue the march until victory when the Palestinians
flags are hoisted over the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and its mosques
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to explain
Israel’s position against the bid when he meets on Monday with foreign
ambassadors stationed in Israel.
Netanyahu has longed said that
Palestinian attempts to separate statehood from the peace process endanger any
possibility of arriving at a two-state solution.
Foreign Minister Avigdor
Liberman finished consultations he held on Friday and Sunday in Vienna with
Israeli ambassadors stationed in the 27 European Union countries.
Palestinians already have enough international support to assure passage of
their UN bid, but Israel is hoping to sway as many Western countries as possible
to oppose it.
The battle has been particularly stiff in Europe where the
Palestinians said they believe some 12 of the 27 EU countries will stand with
them in the General Assembly.
Liberman plans to present the ambassadors’
comments to Netanyahu later this week.
During the Vienna meetings,
Liberman said Abbas had consistently rejected numerous Israeli offers to renew
direct negotiations without pre-conditions during the four years that Netanyahu
has been in office.
Liberman said he did not believe the Palestinians
planned to return to the negotiating table after the upgrade.
part of their plan to erode Israel’s position, he said.
Abbas has not
condemned or even acknowledged the recently renewed rocket fire from Gaza into
southern Israel, Liberman said.
His failure to do so once again raises
questions as to which sector of the Palestinian population Abbas represents, if
at all; what responsibility he has for these attacks and what value any
arrangement with him will have, the foreign minister said.
Success of the
Palestinian bid would not grant them full UN membership, which can only be given
by the Security Council.
But it would provide the Palestinians with
increased rights at the UN and possibly the ability to pursue Israelis at the
International Criminal Court.