Israel attacks PA bid for ‘full member’ status at UN

PA confirms Abbas planning application in effort to achieve statehood recognition; PMO says only negotiations can advance peace process.

[Bibi blue] Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
[Bibi blue] Binyamin Netanyahu 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Prime Minister’s Office attacked Palestinian Authority statements Saturday regarding its intention to seek unilateral statehood at the United Nations through an application for full-member status in that body.
It accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of avoiding direct negotiations and said that his decision was both “expected and regrettable.
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“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu still believes that only through direct and honest negotiations – not through unilateral decisions – will it be possible to advance the peace process,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
It issued its comments in reaction to a Ramallah briefing by PA Foreign Minister Riyad Malki, who said that Abbas planned to apply for full UN membership next month.
“I think that the president, when he gets to the United Nations and meets the secretary general, will present the application,” Malki said.
He narrowed down the timing of the application to September during Abbas’s visit to New York, but when asked to give a specific date, Palestinian officials said it would still have to be determined.
This year’s 66th General Assembly meetings are set to open officially on September 13, with high-level meetings of world leaders expected to start on September 20.
The Palestinians in the past have spoken of a September deadline for seeking statehood from the United Nations.
A Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post, however, that the Palestinian strategy now is to turn to the UN with a request for membership. It’s a move that would give the Palestinians statehood status.
UN membership requests must go through the Security Council, which then makes a recommendation to the General Assembly. Five nations — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — can veto a membership request at the Security Council.
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The United States – which has opposed Palestinian statehood initiatives at the United Nations – has said it would veto such bids.
The Palestinian official told the Post, that Abbas might separately ask the General Assembly to upgrade the PLO status at the UN from that of an “observer mission,” to a “non-member state.”
Such a request does not have to go through the Security Council and only needs majority approval at the United Nations. The official said that such a move would still confer the status of statehood on the Palestinians.
The Israeli mission to the UN responded to the Palestinian statements by reiterating calls to return to the negotiating table.
An Israeli spokesperson said only direct talks with Jerusalem could lead to a comprehensive peace deal, whereas unilateral moves were likely to provoke violence.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said on Saturday that “The Palestinian decision is bad for Israel, and only one person is responsible for this diplomatic failure: Netanyahu.”
Livni continued: “Netanyahu’s inability to understand the situation and his refusal to continue negotiations – which Kadima had been holding in keeping with Israel’s best interests – are leading Israel to one of the most dangerous diplomatic failures in its history,” she said in a statement.
“Rather than establishing a Palestinian state through an agreement with Israel, Netanyahu is causing the world to establish a state in opposition to Israel’s position.
“Kadima reiterates its call to renew negotiations before September,” she concluded.
MK Arye Eldad (National Union) on Saturday called on Israel to cancel the Oslo Accords in reaction to the Palestinian announcement.
“The Government of Israel should announce immediately that with this application to the UN, the Oslo Accords will be canceled and Israel should declare that Israeli law will be implemented in Judea and Samaria,” Eldad said in a statement.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.