Abbas addressing UN 2012 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to address the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.
Unlike previous years, the UN has decided to allow Abbas to sit in a special chair reserved for heads-of-state.
He will be the first Palestinian leader to use the chair, reserved for heads of state waiting to take the podium to address the General Assembly.
In the past, Palestinian leaders, who were considered representatives of a stateless people, had to stand while waiting to address the meeting. Both Yasser Arafat and Abbas stood with their hand resting on the back of the chair, to represent Palestinian longing for statehood.
The new diplomatic honor bestowed on Abbas comes after the Palestinians' upgrade to an "observer state" at the UN last November.
On Tuesday, Abbas met with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, pledging that the Palestinians will "exert every effort"
to try to ensure peace talks with Israel are successful.
The US president commended the Palestinian Authority president for sitting at the negotiating table with his Israeli counterparts and for condemning violence against the Jewish state.
"We’ve seen Palestinian and Israeli representatives discuss some of the most difficult issues that have been roadblocks to peace for too long," Obama said.
"None of us are under any illusion that this would be easy," said Obama.
Abbas, who spoke briefly, said that a peace agreement was in the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and all those who live in the region.
"We are fully committed to the peace process so that we can reach a final settlement that ultimately will lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state that would live side-by-side in peace and security with Israel," Abbas said.
Abbas said negotiators will need to overcome "several difficulties" but that the Palestinians are committed to the process.Reuters, Michael Wilner contributed to this report.