Israeli-PA row shaping up over Palestinian UN bid

Israeli official warns Abbas "will pay a price" for statehood bid after PA president rebuffs US, European requests to postpone move.

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)
A showdown looms over the Palestinian Authority’s bid to seek statehood recognition at the UN this week, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas rebuffing requests to postpone the move, and Israel promising to respond if he follows through.
Abbas has turned down requests from the US, France, Germany and Britain to postpone his plan to ask the UN on Thursday to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation to that of a non-member observer state, PA officials in Ramallah revealed.
The officials told the PA’s official mouthpiece, Al-Ayyam, that Abbas was determined to pursue his statehood bid despite the requests.
November 29 is the anniversary of the historic UN vote to partition Mandatory Palestine in 1947.
An Israeli government official said that if Abbas goes ahead with this move, “he has to know that he will pay a price. This is a fundamental and unacceptable violation of previous agreements, and Israel reserves the right to respond.”
The official continued with Israel’s policy of not specifying what measures Israel would take in response, saying only that this “negative move” would “complicate the possibility of future negotiations and undermine what little trust is left.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in an Israel Radio interview that Israel would look for other Palestinian interlocutors with whom to conduct a dialogue.
Ayalon did not say whom he had in mind.
The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that one possible Israeli response to the move at the UN was to build and develop in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, something the US has urged Jerusalem not to do.
Palestinian officials, meanwhile, expressed hope that the recent IDF operation in the Gaza Strip would increase the number of countries that would vote in favor of upgrading the status of a Palestinian state.
Hana Amireh, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the statehood bid has become “very urgent” after the IDF offensive “because it mobilized widespread support for the Palestinians.”
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told the Ramallah-based newspaper that the decision to go to the UN on November 29 was “irreversible.”
Abbas told the foreign ministers of the US, France, Germany and Britain that he’s going to the UN, a PA official stressed. The PA is nevertheless expecting most EU countries to abstain during the vote on the statehood bid.
Some EU countries will decide how to vote only at the last minute, PA officials said. PA attempts to persuade EU countries to vote in favor of the statehood bid will continue in the coming days, they added.
Israel is also actively lobbying the world’s democratic nations against supporting the move, believing that if a group of 40 to 50 democracies either vote against or abstain, this would deprive the Palestinians of a moral victory, even though they have an automatic majority inside the General Assembly to get the resolution passed.
Over the weekend, PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki said he tried to persuade his Italian counterpart to support the statehood bid at the UN during a meeting in Rome. Maliki did not say whether he had succeeded in his effort.
Abbas, meanwhile, expressed hope that US President Barack Obama would fulfill his vision for a two-state solution as he had stated in his 2009 Cairo speech.
“President Obama is in his second term in office and we hope that he will stand with peace,” Abbas told Palestinian high school students during a meeting in his office.
“This could be the last chance for achieving peace and stability.”
Washington has come out staunchly against the move.
Abbas has reiterated his readiness to resume peace talks with Israel, but only after obtaining the status of non-member observer in the UN.
“There is nothing that stops us from obtaining the status of non-member observer,” he said. “That’s why we will file the application on November 29 with a request for voting on it. We are sure that the countries of the free world would vote with us,” Abbas said.
Former US president Jimmy Carter phoned Abbas on Friday to voice his support for the statehood bid, the PA president’s office said in a statement.