Abbas heads to NY ahead of UN statehood bid

PA president says he will work toward ending Fatah, Hamas dispute; officials disregard US, Israeli threats to punish PA.

Abbas in rally for UN bid 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Abbas in rally for UN bid 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to head to New York on Monday to seek the UN’s approval for upgrading the PA’s status to non-member observer.
PA officials, meanwhile, said they were not taking seriously Israeli and American threats to punish the PA leadership for going to the UN, noting that Arab countries have expressed readiness to compensate the Palestinians financially.
On the eve of his departure, the PA organized a rally outside Abbas’s office in Ramallah in support of the statehood bid.
Ignoring demands from the US and some EU countries, Abbas is planning to present the request to the UN this coming Thursday.
Addressing his supporters, Abbas said that after obtaining the status of non-member observer, he will work toward ending the dispute between his Fatah faction and Hamas.
Abbas said that “all Palestinian factions” supported the statehood bid. Last week, however, Hamas denied that it was in favor of the statehood bid at the UN.
“I’m going to the UN to demand a just peace based on international legitimacy to achieve an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas declared. He also pledged to work toward seeking the release of Palestinian “heroes” from Israeli prisons.
Abbas said he was going to the UN after having won the support of all “peace-lovers and countries that believe in the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”
A large number of countries supported the statehood bid, he added.
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said that November 29 would be a “historic turning point in the march of our people toward a state and independence.”
He predicted that a majority of UN members would vote in favor of the PA’s statehood bid “as an expression of the international status of Palestine.”
Malki is also scheduled to travel to New York Monday to put the final touches to the PA resolution.
Malki said he would continue his efforts in New York to persuade as many countries as possible to vote in favor of upgrading the status of a Palestinian entity.
Meanwhile, Jamal Muhaissen, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, warned that his group would not hesitate to resort to “armed struggle” in light of Israeli threats to take punitive measures against the PA because of the statehood bid.
“The armed struggle is a guaranteed right for the Palestinian people to defend themselves against the Israeli threats,” Muhaissen said. “The Israeli threats are part of a policy aimed at deterring the Palestinian leadership from going to the UN.”
The Fatah official said that he nevertheless did not expect Israel to carry out its threats. He claimed that Israel had issued similar threats before Yasser Arafat declared the establishment of a Palestinian state in 1988 in Algiers.
Muhaissen said the Palestinians would be able to cope with any sanctions imposed on them by the US and Israel, including cutting off financial aid to the PA. He said that Arab countries have promised to support the PA financially if the US and Israel carried out their threats.
Top Fatah official Nabil Sha’ath also dismissed as “worthless” Israeli threats against the PA.
“Who has an interest in the abrogation of the Oslo Accords?” Sha’ath asked. “They [Israel] will lose. Do they want to bear the costs of occupation?”
Referring to US pressure on the PA leadership to refrain from presenting the statehood bid to the UN, Sha’ath said: “Instead of threatening us, they should give the Palestinians their rights.”
He too said that the Palestinians have received promises for financial support from Arab countries if the US cuts off aid and Israel withholds tax revenues belonging to the PA.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, warned that canceling the Oslo Accords would jeopardize security and stability in the region and the entire world.
However, she said, she did not expect Israel to take such a drastic step “because this is not in the interest of any political party.”
PA Labor Minister Ahmed Majdalani was quoted by the PA’s official news agency Wafa as saying that Israeli threats to withhold tax revenues were part of the Israeli government’s “election campaign.”
Majdalani said that canceling agreements that regulate security and economic relations between the PA and Israel “effectively mean that Israel has recognized the Palestinian state.” He said that withholding the tax revenues would force the PA to stop paying full salaries to its civil servants and reduce health, social and educational services to the Palestinians.