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Abbas officially announces U.N. intentions

Sept. 16, 2011 at 7:07 PM   |   Comments

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas Friday made it official that the Palestinians will seek statehood approval from the U.N. Security Council next week.

"We are going to the Security Council," Abbas said in a speech to high-level Palestinian officials in his office in Ramallah, West Bank. "As soon as I address the [U.N.] General Assembly, I will submit the letter of application to the secretary-general of the United Nations, so that he will pass on this application to the chairman of the Security Council."

Abbas is to speak before the General Assembly in New York Sept. 23

The Palestinians U.N. strategy has been opposed by Israel, the United States and others who maintain there should be direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis to reach agreement on a two-state solution.

"Peace is not achieved by going unilaterally to the United Nations," a statement issued by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said. "Peace will be achieved only through direct negotiations with Israel."

Abbas and the Palestinians face the likelihood of a U.S. veto in the Security Council. They could then pursue approval by the General Assembly.

But The Washington Post reported the statement by Netanyahu's office called the U.N. route "futile."

"The Palestinian Authority and its leader are consistently evading direct negotiations with Israel," the prime minister's office said. "When the Palestinian Authority abandons futile moves such as going unilaterally to the U.N., it will find in Israel a partner to direct negotiations for peace."

Abbas maintains the U.N. approach is necessary because direct negotiations with Israel have reached a "dead end." He said the two sides could get together after the Palestinians obtain international recognition of statehood.

"The negotiations will be state-to-state: one an occupier, and the other under occupation," he said. "The occupation will not end the day after recognition. but we will have gained recognition of the world that our state is occupied and our land is occupied, not disputed, as propagated by the Israeli government."

P.A. Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters in Ramallah Thursday the statehood bid was meant to better chances for resuming peace talks with Israel. He said none of the recent international diplomatic efforts resulted in a realistic proposal that could lead to a renewal of talks.

Muhammad Shtayyeh, a member of the P.A. central committee, said he doubted the United States would carry out its threat to suspend financial aid to the authority over the statehood issue.

"It's not in the interest of the Americans and Israelis to have chaos in the Palestinian territories," Shtayyeh, a senior adviser to Abbas, said. "It's not in the interest of the international community to have turmoil in the region."

Saeb Erekat, lead negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the decision to approach the United Nations was "irreversible." Erekat reiterated the authority's conditions for renouncing the statehood bid -- ending settlement construction and Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.

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