Palestinian statehood is a "vital" component necessary for regional peace, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, in a message to mark Monday's annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
But amid criticism of Israel's settlement activities during the two-day solidarity event, Israeli officials were bracing for Palestinian diplomats to declare new diplomatic strategies during a General Assembly debate on Monday.
Specifically, officials were expected to use the platform to ask the Security Council to declare a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as the state's capital, according to reports published in recent weeks.
Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, slated to address the assembly on Tuesday, is expected to reject the concept of a unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state, emphasizing that the only way to achieve peace is through negotiations, Israel officials said.
Shalev also planned to remind the assembly of the 1947 vote that led to the creation of the State of Israel and to stress the misguided focus in targeting Israel by various UN bodies.
The two-day solidarity event has taken place every year since 1977.
This year it includes speeches in the General Assembly, an exhibit on Palestinian refugees and the screening of the film Jerusalem - The East Side Story.
The debate in the General Assembly is expected to generate six resolutions that will criticize Israel. Until recently Israel boycotted the annual debate, but for the past two years has sought a platform to defend itself.
"We decided that we should also have our voice heard there, but we know this is really a political discussion and very one-sided," said one Israeli official.
Earlier Monday the Palestinian representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, accused Israel of failing to uphold its commitment to peace through its settlement activities and occupation of Palestinian territory.
Reading a statement from PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Mansour charged that a double standard exists when it comes to Israel's compliance with UN resolutions. In the 61 years since the so-called nakba, or "catastrophe" of the creation of a Jewish state, Palestinians "continue to suffer under colonial occupation," he said.
Mansour said the settlement policy has accelerated.
"The concept of negotiation for the current government is that they can do whatever they wish on the ground," he said. "This is something we cannot accept."
Mansour offered assurances that the Palestinians were committed to peace.
"We have never been an obstacle to a desired peace," he charged. "It is time, after all these years of engagement that have not yielded any results, for the international community, particularly the Security Council, to shoulder its responsibility and take immediate and decisive action."
In his message marking the solidarity event, the UN's Ban expressed concern over stalled peace talks.
"It is vital that a sovereign State of Palestine is achieved," he said. "This should be on the basis of the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps and a just and agreed solution to the refugee issue - a state that lives side-by-side in peace with Israel, within secure and recognized borders."
He further called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity, and said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement of a settlement freeze falls short of Israel's obligations under the road map.
Asked during a press briefing if the secretary-
general had a position on the nature of a two-state solution, spokeswoman Michele Montas said Ban would not "venture into what each state will be."
"We do recognize the need for two states living side by side," she said.
Last week, the European Union said it was "premature" to recognize a Palestinian state.
"I don't think we are there yet," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, according to published news reports. "We would be ready to recognize a Palestinian state, but conditions are not there as of yet."