Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defended his bid to upgrade Palestine’s status at the United Nations, writing in a letter to US President Barack Obama that becoming a nonmember state was not a “unilateral decision” but would instead ease the path to talks, Palestine News Network reported on Tuesday.
“This step came to improve the Palestinians’ right on their land, considering it as an occupied land and not as disputed territory,” the letter read, according to Abbas’s political adviser, Nimer Hammad. “This step doesn’t aim to isolate Israel but to obtain an international recognition that facilitates negotiations.”
On Monday the US said the change in status at the UN would only frustrate efforts to bring the Israeli and Palestinians together for negotiations that have been stalled since 2010.
“Unilateral actions, including initiatives to grant Palestinians nonmember state observer status at the United Nations, would only jeopardize the peace process and complicate efforts to return the parties to direct negotiations,” US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told the Security Council.
Abbas, however, has made it clear that he intends to proceed with seeking nonmember status sometime next month, and asked the US not to scuttle his efforts.
The Palestinian delegation to the UN, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, currently has observer status, but gaining nonmember status includes non-binding international recognition as a sovereign state. As a nonmember state Palestine could take part in UN General Assembly meetings, and possibly join a variety of international bodies such as the International Criminal Court, opening the path to the lodging of complaints against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
The Palestinians failed to obtain full membership at the UN in 2011 due to a lack of support in the Security Council. Nonmember state status is decided by the General Assembly.