PA's Abbas 'determined' to lead battle for statehood

Israeli official calls PA bid at UN "confidence-destroying measure," plays down PLO threat to abrogate Oslo.

Abbas (R370) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Abbas (R370)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared Tuesday that he was determined to lead the “battle for recognition” of a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly later this month and said he was confident that most Palestinians supported his new drive.
Abbas’s announcement came as PLO officials in Ramallah talked about the need to either cancel or change certain articles of the Oslo Accords.
In a message to Palestinians posted on his Facebook account, Abbas said he was determined to pursue the statehood bid despite pressure from the US and other countries.
Abbas said he would deliver a speech before the General Assembly on September 27 in which he would ask for recognition of a Palestinian state as a nonmember of the UN.
Dubbing it the “battle for recognition,” Abbas said: “We are determined to achieve recognition of our state despite all the pressure.”
Abbas said that achieving the status of non-member state in the UN would enable the Palestinians to argue that they are living in a state that is occupied by another country.
He added that last year’s statehood bid failed because of US pressure on members of the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority sources in Ramallah revealed that PLO leaders who met in the past few days discussed for the first time the possibility of cancelling the Oslo Accords.
The sources said that the PLO leaders failed to reach a unified position on the issue and decided to postpone the matter until after next week’s UN General Assembly session in New York.
According to the sources, some PLO Executive Committee members criticized Abbas’s policies and called to cancel the Oslo Accords. The sources described the two-day discussions as “very tense.”
A PLO official said that “it was obvious that the Palestinian leadership could not take such a drastic measure as cancelling the Oslo Accords before the General Assembly session and the US presidential election.”
A senior Israeli official said that if the Palestinians went through with their UN bid it would be a “confidence destroying measure” that would “raise extremely serious questions about their real commitment to a negotiated agreement.”
Israel, the official said, reserved the right to respond to this type of action.
Although he would not give details of a possible reaction, the official said that numerous contingencies were discussed in the past.
If the Palestinians asked for non-member statehood status in the UN, he said, it would break the most fundamental commitment of the Oslo accords: that all outstanding issues would be negotiated between the two sides.
Regarding the Palestinian threat to abrogate the Oslo Accords, the official said this was “unfortunately typical of Palestinian behavior – ‘hold me back, or else.’” The official said this pattern of behavior has been reflected in the past in threats to dissolve the PA, and in Abbas’s repeated threats to resign.
“We don’t take this too seriously,” the official said. “It is a shallow negotiating tactic, and we don’t think the international community should take it too seriously either.”
The official said there was a fundamental contradiction in the Palestinian position: They decide not to negotiate or engage with Israel, and then as a result say there is no peace process and they need to take radical, revolutionary steps.
“This is a first and foremost a tragedy for the Palestinian people, and it is time the world calls them out on it,” he said.