Abbas: All hell has broken loose ahead of UN statehood bid

Palestinian Authority president admits he is under "huge" international pressure over statehood gambit as US, Russian, EU and UN diplomats meet in ongoing effort to persuade PA to forgo move.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
September 19, 2011 15:52
3 minute read.
PA President Abbas speaking ahead of trip to UN

PA President Mahmoud Abbas 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

 
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said that he remains committed to seeking full membership for a Palestinian state at the United Nations despite the fact that that he is facing "huge" international pressure to abandon the plan and he expects "difficult times" in the aftermath of the bid.

"We decided to take this step and all hell has broken out against us," Abbas was quoted by the Ma'an news agency as tellling reporters on his flight to New York.

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“The Palestinian people and their leadership will pass through very difficult times after the Palestinian approach to the United Nations through the Security Council to seek full membership for the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas added, according to AFP.

A last-ditch international push began in New York on Sunday to try to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and avert a crisis over Palestinian statehood at the United Nations as members of the so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators met in New York.

Officials met two days after Abbas said he would demand full membership of the world body for a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly this week, setting up a diplomatic clash with Israel and the United States.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Asked before the meeting if either could report any progress, Clinton replied, "We are meeting to talk about the way forward." Asked if that meant no progress, she said, "I didn't say that."

Senior diplomats from the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - the Quartet - met on Sunday, an EU official said, as part of an intense effort in recent weeks to persuade the Palestinians to drop their UN plans.

The official said the diplomats were assessing the situation, but gave no further details.

The United States says it will veto in the Security Council a Palestinian application for full UN membership, but former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who serves an an envoy for the Quartet, said on Sunday a showdown could still be averted.

Blair told reporters, "The Palestinians are here at the UN now, so the question is ... can people find a way that enables the Palestinians to take a significant step forward to statehood at the same time as not ending up in a situation where the UN replaces negotiations?"

Abbas said that he had considered proposals put forth by the Quartet to stave off the statehood bid, but they did not support the PA's goal of a sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

"We told them that any proposals which do not include a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and an end to settlement expansion are unacceptable," he was quoted by Ma'an as saying.

Abbas was scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the statehood bid on Monday in New York.


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