Abbas: We’ll seek recognition despite US, Israel opposition

Lieberman expected to go to NY for General Assembly where PA president will apply for UN membership; Netanyahu has not affirmed attendance.

By
August 17, 2011 02:52
4 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)

 
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday confirmed plans to apply for full UN membership at September’s meeting of the United Nation’s General Assembly.

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 applications.

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“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 bid.

“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 idea.”



Nuland added that US efforts have been directed at pushing both the Palestinians and Israel to return to the negotiating table.

In 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 us.”

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.

Asked 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.”

On Tuesday, 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 status.

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 General Assembly.

Netanyahu went to the opening of the General Assembly his first year in office, but did not attend last year.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to go to the General Assembly.

It’s 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 speak.

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.

An Israeli 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 bid.

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.

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