PA President Abbas gives letter to Ban Ki-moon 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday
he expected the Security Council to finish debating his nation's
application for full UN membership within weeks, not months.
comments came as reaction to speculations that the Security Council
could potentially sit on the statehood application for a prolonged
period of time in order to avoid voting on the controversial request.
:PA unhappy with 'incomplete' Quartet peace initiativeClinton: Peace only possible through negotiationsNetanyahu urges Abbas to hold immediate peace talks
to journalists on his plane back from the General Assembly in New York,
where he presented the request, Abbas said Security Council members had
initially appeared unenthusiastic about the idea of discussing the
But he said the mood appeared to change after he
delivered a speech to the General Assembly
on Friday, during which he
pressed the Palestinian case for an independent state alongside Israel.
United States, Israel's closest ally, has said it will block the move.
Both governments say direct peace talks are the correct way for
Palestinians to pursue peace. Washington holds veto power in the
15-member Security Council.
The Palestinian Authority wants the United Nations Security Council to
decide on their bid for full membership of the world body within a
fortnight, a leading official in the Fatah movement of Abbas said on Saturday.
Apart from the US veto threat, it was also unclear if the required nine of the body's 15 members would support the bid.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki told national
radio that officials were still hoping to garner the required votes.
"Consultations continue, especially with Gabon, Nigeria and
Bosnia-Herzegovina, which have yet to define their position," Maliki was
quoted as saying.
Abbas told the reporters accompanying him of a tense atmosphere during the week: "We held dozens of meetings with dozens of delegations which were trying to avert our going to the Security Council," Abbas said.
Talking about a return to peace talks with Israel, Abbas said: "We will
not deal with any initiative which does not contain a halt to settlement
or the '67 borders".
PA could potentially ask for upgrade in status from General Assembly
Alternate to the Security Council, the Palestinians, who currently have
observer status at the UN, could ask for the General Assembly to vote
to upgrade them to a non-member state which would allow them membership
of a number of UN agencies.
The General Assembly vote requires only a simple majority of the current
193 member nations, seemingly an easy proposition for the Palestinians.
In his speech to the General Assembly on Friday after presenting the
request, Abbas said: "I do not believe that anyone with a shred of
conscience can reject our application ... and our admission as an
But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who spoke shortly after
Abbas, said peace could be achieved only through negotiations and
dismissed the world body as a "theater of the absurd."
Shortly after the two men ended their speeches, the quartet of Middle
East peace negotiators - the United States, Russia, the European Union
and the UN - issued a call for a return to direct peace talks which
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said was a "concrete proposal".
"The United States is very pleased that the Quartet was able to issue a
statement today with a concrete and detailed proposal to begin a
negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians without delay or
pre-condition," she said.
Abbas accepts negotiations are still necessary, but argues statehood
will put Palestinians on a more equal footing. Israel sees the UN bid
as an attempt to erode its own legitimacy.
Palestinians want to establish a state in the Gaza Strip, a coastal
enclave controlled by Islamist Hamas who are opposed to peace talks, and
in the West Bank with east Jerusalem as the capital, land Israel
captured in a 1967 Middle East War.Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.