Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday reiterated his intention to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize an independent Palestine in November, despite pressure to abandon the move.
“Some powers are trying to tell us that the two-state solution doesn’t come from the UN but through negotiations,” Abbas said on Sunday, speaking at a memorial ceremony for former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. “Negotiations are crucial. But to get UN recognition is also key.”
The US and Israel have opposed upgrading the Palestinians’ status at the world body to nonmember observer state, saying that a Palestinian state can be established only through negotiations. 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.
“We will turn to the United Nations, even though they do not want us to do this,” Abbas said. “We do not want to deny the legitimacy of Israel; only the legitimacy of the settlements.”
Abbas’s statement comes just one day after Palestinian sources reported that he was “seriously considering” pushing back the United Nations statehood bid in light of Barack Obama’s victory last week in the US elections.
The sources said that a possible postponement, from November to the end of January, would give the reelected American president time to organize a political agenda for the second term of his administration.
The Palestinians took the first step toward raising their status at the UN from an observer mission to a nonmember observer state on Thursday by circulating a draft resolution to the 193 UN member states and asking for their support.
The draft also called on the UN Security Council to approve a Palestinian petition for full UN membership, which was submitted in 2011.
No member has veto power in the General Assembly and a resolution submitted by Abbas is almost certain to be approved by the world body, which is dominated by countries sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
The upgraded UN status would add weight to Palestinian claims for a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
The Palestinians also hope to use their upgraded status to join additional UN bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, where they could attempt to prosecute Israel.
At the same time, they have expressed fear of financial and diplomatic retaliation.
Following last year’s move by the Palestinians to join the UN cultural agency UNESCO, the United States withheld funds from that organization, which amount to 22 percent of its budget. The US also withheld money from the Palestinians, and the US Congress has threatened similar sanctions if the Palestinians proceed with attempts to improve their status at the UN again.
Israel also retaliated by withholding taxes monies it collected on behalf of the Palestinian government.