The Palestinian Authority’s decision to postpone plans to seek UN membership next month has angered some Fatah officials in the West Bank.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to ask the UN General Assembly this month to grant non-member status for a Palestinian state in the international body. Nonmember status does not require the approval of the Security Council.

In recent weeks, Abbas and other PA officials had stressed that the PA was determined to renew its bid for recognition of statehood and membership at the UN despite objections from Israel and the US.

But last week, PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki, in a surprise move, announced that Abbas would not present a request for membership in the UN during his speech before the General Assembly in late September. The decision to delay the request was taken following heavy pressure from the US administration and some EU countries.

Maliki hinted that the statehood bid had been delayed until after the US presidential election. His announcement drew sharp criticism from Tawfik Tirawi, a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee and former head of the PA’s General Intelligence Service in the West Bank.

Tirawi accused the PA foreign minister of “disparaging the minds of Palestinians and their strategic right that they have been defending with their souls and blood.”

Tirawi said that no one had authorized Maliki to speak on behalf of the PA leadership and government.

“Minister Maliki is not the one who decides whether the membership request would be presented or delayed,” Tirawi said in an unprecedented attack on the PA foreign minister.

“This is a decision that will be taken by the PLO Executive Committee, the Palestinian Authority leadership and the government.”

Tirawi said that Maliki’s announcement was “harmful” to the PA leadership and its credibility.

On Sunday evening, Maliki issued a statement in which he denied that he had talked about delaying the statehood bid. He added that the PA leadership still has not set a date for presenting its request to the UN.

Two other senior Fatah officials in the West Bank also criticized the apparent decision to delay the statehood bid after the PA had affirmed that it would go ahead with the move.

Nimer Hammad, political adviser to Abbas, said that the PA still has not decided when to file the request for membership in the UN. He explained that the PA first wants to make sure that a large number of UN General Assembly members are in favor of the statehood bid.

Abbas is also scheduled to consult with Arab League foreign ministers later this week to win their backing for the new statehood bid.

The Arab League last month voiced backing for Abbas’s plan to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

The PLO Executive Committee is expected to hold a meeting in Ramallah on Monday to discuss the statehood bid and the ongoing Fatah-Hamas dispute said Wasel Abu Yusef, a PLO official. At the meeting, Abbas will brief the PLO leaders on the outcome of his visit to Iran and US pressure to abandon the statehood bid.

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