Abbas confirms he’ll seek non-member status for ‘Palestine’ at UN this month

PA chief says no money for salaries, as demonstrators in West Bank again demand resignation of PM Fayyad

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday confirmed that he would seek non-member status for “Palestine” at the United Nations when he attends the UN General Assembly meetings at the end of the month.

“We are going to ask to become a non-state member of the UN on the 27th of September,” Abbas said in Ramallah. The US had been urging him to desist from such a move, and had been pushing instead for a resumption of Palestinian negotiations with Israel.

A bid for non-member status would be guaranteed an automatic majority in the General Assembly. It would give “Palestine” observer rights and membership in some UN-related forums. A bid by Abbas last year to gain the binding authority of a Security Council resolution recognizing Palestine as an independent state foundered, with insufficient support in the 15-member panel.

As socio-economic protests continued in the West Bank, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, Abbas said that government employees in Ramallah would not receive full salaries this month because donor countries have not delivered promised aid.

The US and Arab countries have failed to come through this year with the aid money they have pledged, he said, leaving the PA in a budgetary shortfall. “We have no money,” said Abbas.

Abbas earlier told the Arab League that his government has tried to lower taxes in order to ease the financial burden on the Palestinian people.

The economic conditions have helped spark small but growing protests in the West Bank, which Abbas on Wednesday tried to embrace by describing as the beginning of the ‘Palestinian Spring’. Last week demonstrators halted traffic in key Palestinian cities. There were more protests in several West Bank cities including Hebron on Saturday, with placards urging Fayyad to quit.

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza said the Arab Spring had come to the West Bank, and blamed the PA’s policies for Palestinians’ financial plight.

On Thursday, demonstrations against mounting commodity prices were held across the West Bank under the banner “Leave already, Salam Fayyad!” The Palestinian Authority prime minister denied reports on Thursday that he had tendered his resignation to the president, but said he was willing to step down if that was deemed helpful to the economy.

There are some 154,000 Palestinian civil servants, and their salaries help keep extended families out of poverty.

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