PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday confirmed plans to
apply for full UN membership at September’s meeting of the United Nation’s
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It’s a step which puts the Palestinian leader in direct
conflict with the United States. America has opposed the move and has the power
to veto it at the UN Security Council, which must approve all UN membership
“The application will be submitted to the [UN] Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon,” Abbas told a news conference in Sarajevo, ending a
three-day visit to Bosnia during which he asked for support for the UN
“There is no date. Any time during the UN session we can submit the
application,” he added.
This year’s 66th General Assembly meetings are
set to open officially on September 13. High-level meetings of world leaders are
expected to start on September 20.
Abbas’ words echoed those of PA
Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki on Saturday, and PLO Executive Committee Member
Hanan Ashrawi, on Sunday.
US State Department Spokeswoman, Victoria
Nuland, already said on Monday, “going to the UN is not going to get us to peace
– is not going to get to the two states that we want to see. It’s a bad
Nuland added that US efforts have been directed at pushing both
the Palestinians and Israel to return to the negotiating table.
Sarajevo, Abbas said of the US: “We don’t want to boycott Americans. At the same
time, they will not boycott us. We will continue to cooperate with the Americans
and the European countries.
They help us – work with
Anticipating a US veto, Palestinian officials have said they would
likely apply for an upgrade in their UN status from an “observer mission” to
that of a “non-member state.” Such an upgrade would not require Security Council
approval, and could be achieved by tabling a resolution in the General Assembly,
where the Palestinians have enough support to pass such a measure.
about that idea, Abbas replied: “After the discussion at the Security Council,
we will see. Anyhow, we are going there with an Arab follow-up committee, and we
will make consultations with them to decide what we want.”
there was some speculation that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not
attend the UN General Assembly in September by way of downplaying the
significance of any resolution in support of Palestinian statehood that would be
passed by that body, such as an application for non-member state
An Israeli official said that Netanyahu had not made a decision
yet, but at present, the prime minister has not affirmed his attendance at the
Netanyahu went to the opening of the General Assembly
his first year in office, but did not attend last year.
Avigdor Lieberman is expected to go to the General Assembly.
expected that he would speak there, as he did last year. His office confirmed
his trip to New York, but would not state for certain that he planned to
Palestinians have said that they are heading to the UN because
they have lost faith in the possibility of achieving statehood through
negotiations with Israel.
They also do not believe their right to
self-determination should be linked to that process.
Israel has opposed
Palestinian unilateral moves at the UN and accused the Palestinians of taking
that step to avoid the hard compromises necessary to negotiate a final-status
agreement. It is concerned that rather than using statehood to advance peace,
the Palestinians would deepen the conflict by pursuing Israel legally,
particularly through the International Criminal Court.
official told The Jerusalem Post
that “the only way to move forward toward peace
is through direct negotiations.
By avoiding negotiations the Palestinian
leadership is not doing itself or its own people any favors.”
At a press
conference in Hungary, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that it wasn’t
too late to deter the Palestinians from heading to the UN. He urged the
Europeans to use their influence with the PA to dissuade them from such a
unilateral move, which he said would not advance peace. Ayalon is in Hungry in
hopes of swaying that country to oppose a Palestinian UN statehood
Meanwhile, Israel’s President Shimon Peres told Channel 2 that he
believed that an option could be found that would deter the Palestinians from
their UN statehood bid, but he did not specify what he meant. He also said that
details of a media story that Netanyahu had stopped him from heading to Jordan
to meet with Abbas were incorrect.