Abbas: The time has come for Palestinian independence

PA president submits request for UN recognition of Palestine as full member state in world body; Security Council to review application.

September 23, 2011 19:32
2 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 Friday said that "the time has come for Palestinian independence," in a speech to the UN General Assembly, shortly after he officially submitted a request to the world body for recognition of Palestine as a full member state.

"Enough, enough, enough," Abbas stated, saying that "63 years of ongoing tragedy must end."

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Abbas confirms he'll ask for full membership at UN
PA: Obama will be responsible for failure of peace

Abbas called the UN vote on the PA request for statehood a "moment of truth," in which the world must decide if it will continue to allow "the last occupation in the world to continue." The PA president held up a copy of the official request for full UN membership to raucous applause from the crowd of world diplomats. He added that the state in question should have the pre-1967 lines as its borders and east Jerusalem as its capital.

The UN Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss the Palestinian application for membership in the United Nations, Lebanon's UN ambassador said.

"I circulated the letter (Palestinian application) to all members of the Security Council and I called for consultations in light of this letter on Monday at 3 in the afternoon (1900 GMT)," Ambassador Nawaf Salam told reporters on Friday.

Abbas called on the nations of the world to vote for the recognition of Palestine and urged the UN Security council to expedite their decision.

"I say to the Israelis, come to peace," Abbas said during the speech, reiterating his position that the statehood bid should not be an impediment to the peace process.

Abbas said the Palestinians would continue peaceful, popular resistance to Israeli occupation and warned that West Bank settlement construction threatens both to destroy the two-state solution and the survival of his fledgling government, the Palestinian Authority.

The PA president blamed Israel's continued building of settlements on "Palestinian land" for the impasse in the peace process.

Abbas said that over the past year all attempts to renew peace negotiations were repeatedly "smashed against the rocks of the Israeli government's positions."

Just prior to his speech, Abbas asked the United Nations to recognize a state for his people, even though the United States has vowed to veto the move.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said Abbas handed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a letter requesting full UN membership, which the Security Council must consider -- although this may take some time.

Israeli diplomatic officials said Thursday that Ban, however, will not immediately pass the request on, giving the Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and UN – time to come up with a statement agreed upon by both sides that would form the parameters for relaunching negotiations.

Abbas set out his case in the speech to the UN General Assembly, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also took the podium to argue that only direct negotiations between the two sides could lead to a Palestinian state.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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