PA to push for UN nonmember status this month, Abbas confirms

Russian FM Lavrov reportedly expresses support for General Assembly bid

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses students in August 2012 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses students in August 2012 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The Palestinians will push forward with their bid for nonmember status at the United Nations in November, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

In a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Amman, Abbas told Lavrov that the PA would submit its request for nonmember status to the 193-member UN General Assembly. The move would essentially provide non-binding international recognition of a Palestinian state.

After the meeting, the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Lavrov had expressed support for the PA’s diplomatic bid, Ynet reported.

Abbas and Lavrov also discussed Middle East security developments and ways to restart the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The two possible dates that have been floated for submitting the initiative are symbolic. November 15 is the anniversary of the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, and November 29 marks the anniversary of the 1947 UN Palestine partition plan decision.

The PA’s diplomatic push for observer status has been stalled for months. Its decision to move forward with the bid for recognition at the international body comes despite warnings by the United States, the European Union, and Israel, which have argued that such a unilateral maneuver takes the place of peace talks and hinders the advance of peace. The US and Israel threatened that they will place economic sanctions on the PA if it goes ahead with the move.

Erekat also spoke about the Palestinian pursuit of UN observer status during a meeting with Arab League Secretary Nabil el-Araby and Abbas in Amman on Monday. The Palestinians “are not seeking a confrontation with America or to isolate Israel, but to isolate Israeli occupation and settlements, and to affirm the principle of the two states,” the PA negotiator said.

Abbas, who gave a landmark interview to Israel’s Channel 2 News last week in which he urged moderation and pragmatism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said that the UN bid would not take the place of peace negotiations. He is also on record as stating that the diplomatic push would help facilitate peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians, not hinder them.

Israel Radio reported that President Shimon Peres, who praised Abbas for his “brave” pro-peace statements during his interview, called the PA president and asked him to abandon his UN push ahead of Israel’s January elections.

The PA failed to achieve a binding unilateral declaration of independence at the UN last year with the Security Council.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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