Abbas defends UN statehood bid in letter to Obama

Palestinian Authority president argues that seeking non-member status is not unilateral, reiterates commitment to 2-state solution.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN 370 (R) (photo credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN 370 (R)
(photo credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to US President Barack Obama on Tuesday in which he defended the Palestinians’ decision to seek “non-membership” in the UN.
In his letter, Abbas said the decision to ask the UN General Assembly next month to vote in favor of upgrading the status of a Palestinian state was not a unilateral move.
He also reiterated his commitment to the two-state solution and stressed that the statehood bid came to “solidify the right of the Palestinian people to their land, which is under occupation and not ‘disputed territories,’” said Nimer Hammad, political adviser to Abbas.
Hammad said Abbas had reassured Obama that the statehood bid was not aimed at “isolating” Israel, but achieving international recognition of a Palestinian state to pave the way for the resumption of peace negotiations.
The PA, Abbas said in his letter, would be prepared to resume the stalled peace talks after obtaining recognition of a Palestinian state next month.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, appealed to the international community to support Abbas’s bid.
“Anyone who seeks to achieve peace on the basis of a two-state solution should vote in favor of a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly,” Erekat said at a meeting with the US consul-general to Jerusalem.
He added that the measure was designed to highlight Israeli policies that were aimed at creating new facts on the ground and “annexing east Jerusalem.” The Israeli measures are considered “war crimes,” he said.
In the context of its efforts to persuade as many countries as possible to vote in favor of the statehood bid next month, the PA leadership has also contacted most of the EU to seek their backing.
However, some of the European countries have expressed reservations about the move at the General Assembly, a PA official revealed. He did not name the countries. The official said that efforts would continue in the coming weeks to persuade them to change their position and find in favor of the PA application.
Hussein al-A’raj, director of Abbas’s bureau, said that the move was mainly designed to “put an end to Israeli claims that the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem, are disputed territories.”
He said the Palestinians were already making a huge sacrifice by agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state “on less than one-quarter of historic Palestine.”