RAMALLAH, West Bank — A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians will proceed with asking the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state, despite a personal call from US President Barack Obama to abandon the bid.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Abbas had a long phone conversation with Obama Sunday evening.
According to Rudeineh, the US president “expresses his opposition to this step,” but Abbas replied that he would carry on.
In Washington, the White House press office said that Obama “reiterated the United States’ opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations.”
Obama also “reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians” for a peace accord, the White House said.
The US and Israel have opposed upgrading the Palestinian status at the world body to nonmember observer state.
The two countries say 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.
Earlier Sunday, Abbas reiterated his intention to proceed with a UN bid in November.
“Some powers are trying to tell us that the two-state solution doesn’t come from the UN but through negotiations,” Abbas said Sunday, speaking at a memorial ceremony for former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. “Negotiations are crucial. But to get UN recognition is also key.”
He added, “We will turn to the United Nations, even though they do not want us to do this… We do not want to deny the legitimacy of Israel; only the legitimacy of the settlements.”