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Middle East

Palestinian UN bid to proceed despite US plea

Palestinian leadership decides to defy plea from US president and moves forward with a bid for elevated status at UNGA.
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2012 20:38
The PA says that statehood would create a new terms of reference for any future negotiations with Israel [EPA]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said at the Cairo-based Arab League that he will press ahead with a bid for the United Nations to recognise Palestine as an observing state, adding that he is ready to start negotiations with Israel afterwards.

"We had agreed to go get the vote on November 29 ... the majority needed for the vote will be on our side," Abbas told reporters on Monday.

"If it is possible to start talks on the following day (after acquiring the observer status) then we are ready for that," Abbas added.

Earlier on Monday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) said it would be proceeding in its bid to obtain non-member state status at the United Nations, despite objections from the United States.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, a member of the Palestinian team working on the UN bid, said in Ramallah on Monday that the application will be made no later than November 29.

"I find it extremely shocking that the US and Israel would oppose this step ... What did we do to deserve this punishment? Did we declare war?"

- Mohammad Shtayyeh, PA

He said Barack Obama, the US president, called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to voice his opposition to the UN move, but that the Palestinian leader made it clear the decision was final.

"The train has left the station," Shtayyeh said, who added that Obama's tone "was not aggressive, it was normal."

The Obama administration has repeatedly said it opposes the unilateral moves toward UN membership by Palestinians and that Palestinian statehood should be achieved through negotiations with Israel.

Shtayyeh called the UN bid "a peaceful measure," with a goal to get recognition of a Palestinian state with defined borders.

"We are going to the UN to preserve the two-state solution," he said.

'Humiliating negotiations'

Shtayyeh said threats by Israel and the US to take punitive financial measures against the Palestinians if they insist on getting non-member state status in the UN would not change anything.

"I find it extremely shocking that the US and Israel would oppose this step," he said, asking, "What did we do to deserve this punishment? Did we declare war?"

Last year, a Palestinian bid for full UN membership - in effect recognition of Palestinian statehood - fell through when it became clear it lacked the Security Council votes needed.

The current bid needs only ratification by the body's General Assembly.

Palestinian organisers have said that they have enough support to pass the measure.

Achieving non-member state status would allow Palestinians to become members of major international bodies, and create new terms of reference to any future negotiations with Israel.

"We are not going back to humiliating negotiations," Shtayyeh said. "There will either be meaningful negotiations or no negotiations at all." 

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