Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday announced that he would be ready to resume talks with Israel immediately after the UN General Assembly votes to upgrade “Palestine” to nonmember status at the end of the month.
Abbas predicted that the vote would pass, and made clear that he would not heed US and Israeli pressure to cancel the gambit. “We had agreed to go get the vote on November 29,” Abbas told reporters at the Cairo-based Arab League. “The majority needed for the vote will be on our side.”
“If it is possible to start talks on the following day, then we are ready for that,” Abbas was quoted by Reuters as saying.
November 29 marks the anniversary of the 1947 UN Palestine partition plan decision.
The US, Israel and some European states have urged Abbas not to seek the non-binding upgrade, with Israeli ministers threatening unspecified unilateral actions if he goes ahead. Israel and the US regard the move as an abandonment of the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to negotiating a two-state solution bilaterally with Israel.
Abbas last year attempted to win UN Security Council approval for the establishment of “Palestine,” but could not muster enough votes for what would have constituted biding approval, and the US was ready to use its Security Council veto if needed. In the General Assembly, by contrast, the Palestinians are assured a majority. The upgrade would give “Palestine” upgraded status in various legal and other UN institutions, and Palestinian officials have said they intend to utilize that status to contest the legality of Israel’s policies in the West Bank.
Israeli-Palestinian talks broke down four years ago, and the Palestinians refuse to renew them until Israel agrees to halt all settlement construction, which Jerusalem has refused to do.
Associated Press contributed to this report.