Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said a bid for United Nations observer status is the first step toward achieving his people’s rights and has wide support among General Assembly members.
“We are going to the United Nations with confidence, supported by all peace lovers,” Abbas said in the West Bank city of Ramallah today. “Be assured, there are many countries” supporting the bid, he said.
Abbas, who controls only the West Bank, is pressing ahead with the initiative after Egypt brokered a cease-fire to end eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, the rival Islamist group running the Gaza Strip. That conflict left six Israelis and more than 160 Palestinians dead.
Hamas, which in 2007 fought Abbas’s Fatah for control of Gaza a year after winning parliamentary elections, gave the Palestinian Authority its backing for the UN bid on Nov. 22. Abbas said he hoped a successful vote would be followed by a reconciliation between the factions. The U.S., European Union and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
“The president believes that this move can be seen as the last chance to achieve peace and stability in the area,” Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, said by phone. “We don’t want this viewed as a frightening move. It isn’t about threats.”
The Palestinian Authority circulated its resolution to put the Palestine Liberation Organization on a par with the Holy See on Nov. 8, according to a draft. That will be put to a vote in the 193-member General Assembly, where the initiative has sufficient support to pass and where the U.S. lacks veto power.
The U.S. doesn’t support the move, saying that Palestinians should achieve statehood only through direct peace talks with Israel. A year ago, the Palestinians abandoned an attempt to be recognized as a full member state through the 15-member Security Council, after U.S. President Barack Obama indicated the U.S. would use its veto.
Israeli Foreign Minister spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the right way to address the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was to first start talking, then agree and, finally, seek UN recognition.
“The Palestinians are trying to turn the whole thing upside down and it will make the possibility of returning to negotiations much more difficult,” Palmor said by phone.
Direct talks between Palestinians and Israel collapsed in September 2010 when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month building freeze in the West Bank and Abbas said he wouldn’t negotiate unless all construction halted.
“Pray for God to make us successful and pray so that others will vote with us,” Abbas said today. “Pray that those who oppose us would stand by us and vote for the truth.”
Erekat said that the UN bid will also strengthen the chances for a Fatah reconciliation with Hamas. “This will make the Palestinians stronger,” Erekat said.
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