Abbas: 'All hell let loose' over UN state bid

Palestinian president describes reaction to push for full membership as he arrives in New York.

    Abbas said 'all hell has broken out' against the Palestinian delegation's pursuit of UN membership [Reuters]

    Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has told Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, that he will submit an application for Palestine's full membership of the UN later this week.

    During a "constructive" meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, Abbas alerted Ban, through whom all applications must be made, of his intention to hand in the bid on Friday.

    Ban responded with his pledge to perform his duties under the UN Charter, while calling on the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume negotiations "within a legitimate and balanced framework," Martin Nesirky, a UN spokesman, said.

    Earlier on Monday, Abbas told reporters on his flight to New York that "all hell has broken out against" the Palestinians' pursuit of statehood.

    "We decided to take this step and all hell has broken out against us," he said, while adding that he would not be swayed.

    "From now until I give the speech [on Friday], we have only one choice: going to the Security Council. Afterwards, we will sit and decide."

    Diplomatic scramble

    Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was engaged in "extremely intensive" diplomacy to defuse tension over the Palestinian bid.

    "We continue to believe and are pressing the point that the only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations," Clinton told reporters.


    Tony Blair denied he was supporting the Israeli position

    Abbas' meeting with Ban was expected to be followed by one with Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, later on Monday.

    "I will ask him what is his strategy? Going to the Council of Security and what after that? We have to avoid such a confrontation. We have to find a balanced solution," Juppe told the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in New York.

    "The relaunch of the peace process is needed."

    Juppe's stance is in line with that of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East - a group of senior diplomats and officials from the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN.

    Tony Blair, the Quartet's special envoy, told Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara on Sunday that it was "the Palestinian right to come to the UN", but that "whatever happens at the UN, let's find a balanced way that we can restart the negotiations"

    "You can pass whatever resolution you want or have any amount of recognition at the UN, unless you also have change on the ground that is negotiated - because this is the only way it will happen, you're going to end up in a situation where we end up again frustrated," he said.

    US threatening veto

    Abbas was also to meet Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, on Monday.

    Russia has said that it supports the Palestinian bid, but the US has threatened to veto it.

    Twelve months ago, US President Barack Obama said he wanted to see a Palestinian state at the UN within a year, but the White House says it will exercise its veto rights.

    "We remain where we were on the inadvisability of unilateral actions that will bring the Palestinians no closer to the statehood they seek," Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said on Monday.

    "We generally as a rule support the actions that move the parties closer together and do not support the things that move them further apart."

    Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is travelling to New York on Tuesday evening to address the General Assembly on September 23, the same day as Abbas, Netanyahu's office said.

    The White House said Netanyahu is also likely to meet Obama in New York.

    Netanyahu has said that the Palestinian bid for UN membership has no chance of success and that they would ultimately seek renewed talks.

    "As a result of the actions of the United States, which is working closely with us, and of other governments with which we and the Americans are working, I predict that this attempt will fail," he said.

    "In the end, after the smoke clears and after everything that happens at the UN, the Palestinians will come to their senses, I hope, drop these moves to bypass negotiations and return to the table in order to bring peace to us and our neighbours."

    Peace talks between Israel and Palestinians ground to a halt in September 2010 when Israel failed to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

    Since then, the Palestinians have refused to return to talks as long as Israel builds on occupied territory.

    The Palestinians say they are going to the UN out of frustration with the deadlock in the peace process.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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