PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday flew to New York at the
head of a large delegation to ask for membership of a Palestinian state in the
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Abbas and the Palestinian delegates went via Amman, where
they were seen off by Arab ambassadors to Jordan.
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The PA delegation
consists of a number of top PLO and Fatah officials, including Nabil Sha’ath,
Saeb Erekat, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Muhammad Shtayyeh and Azzam
al- Ahmed. The Ma’an News Agency reported that MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab
List-Ta’al), who flew to New York on Sunday, is also part of the delegation. The
Knesset member denied this was the case.
On the eve of the UN vote, chief
PLO negotiator Erekat reassured Palestinians that the establishment of a state
would not “cancel the right of return for Palestinian refugees” to their
original homes inside Israel.
Erekat also stressed that the planned
statehood bid would not affect the status of the PLO as the “sole legitimate
representative of the Palestinian people.”
“The request to the UN to
accept Palestine as a full member does not cancel the PLO or the right of
return,” Erekat told the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustour.
“Many are asking
about the fate of the PLO and the right of return of Palestinian refugees to the
1948 territories once the UN approves the membership request,” Erekat
He said the PA leadership, in cooperation with the Arab League and
Qatar, has sought legal advice from all around the world about these
The application to the UN will be submitted by Abbas in his
capacity as chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and president of Palestine,
“The PLO will remain the party in charge of negotiations
over the final-status issues,” he said. The PA is an organ of the
According to Erekat, the statehood bid has at least six advantages: Palestine within the 1967 “borders”
with Jerusalem as its capital would become a state under occupation by another
member of the UN, and Israelis would no longer be able to say that these are
disputed territories; the reference for the negotiations with Israel would focus
only on a setting a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal; the Palestinian people
alone would have the right to selfdetermination; UN conventions oblige all
member states to help a country that is occupied by one of the members; and
Palestine would have access to all UN bodies, such as the International Criminal
Court that would change the status of the Palestinian prisoners in Israel to
“prisoners of war.”
The conflict with Israel can’t end without the “right
of return” for the refugees and the return of the Palestinian prisoners to their
families and people, Erekat told Ad-Dustour.