Abbas tells Arab League summit PA will push for full UN membership
Palestinian leader also wants global body to reaffirm commitment to two-state solution and condemn alleged inflammatory ‘unilateral actions’ taken by Netanyahu government
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab League in Cairo on Sunday that the PA will ask the United Nations this week to grant Palestinians full membership.
The Palestinians currently have non-member observer state status at the UN.
Abbas told the Arab League’s conference on Jerusalem that in addition to a membership push, he would seek to have the UN reaffirm its commitment to a two-state solution as well as condemn what he called Israel’s “unilateral measures,” such as settlement construction.
“The State of Palestine will continue going to international courts and organizations to protect our people’s legitimate rights,” he said.
Focusing on Jerusalem, Abbas claimed it was a “religious duty” to support Palestinians living in the city, as well as a “humanitarian and national imperative.”
He cited the British government’s 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which the then-British foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour declared his government’s support for a Jewish state in the area then known as Mandatory Palestine.
“The battle raging over Jerusalem did not only begin on the day of its occupation in 1967, but several decades prior to that, and even before the Balfour Declaration which was issued by the colonial powers, led by Britain and America,” Abbas was quoted by WAFA, the PA’s official news agency, as saying.
He said the declaration was aimed at “getting rid of the Jews in Europe and establishing the so-called Jewish national home in Palestine, to be an outpost to safeguard the interests of these colonial countries.”
“Just as our people rejected the Balfour Declaration and its results, we also rejected all attempts to liquidate our cause or falsify the facts about it. We rejected the ‘deal of the century,’ and we refused — and we still refuse — to move the US embassy or any other embassy to Jerusalem,” a reference to former US president Donald Trump’s 2020 peace proposal and his 2018 decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In December, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution promoted by the Palestinians requesting that the International Court of Justice weigh in on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Israeli “annexation” and the “legal status of the occupation.”
Israel has accused the Palestinians of trying to use the world body to circumvent peace negotiations and impose a settlement to the conflict.
Abbas’s comments came after the US urged both Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from unilateral moves, amid a recent spike in violence that has included a number of deadly terror attacks on Israelis and gun battles between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank.
In January, US Ambassador to the UN Robert A. Wood publicly warned the new government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against inflaming tensions with the Palestinians.
“We are concerned by any unilateral acts that exacerbate tensions or undermine the viability of a two-state solution,” Wood told the UN Security Council council at the time.
Sunday’s Arab League meeting in Cairo was attended by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Abbas, along with many foreign ministers and senior officials.
Sissi warned of dire repercussions of any Israeli measures to change the status quo on the Temple Mount flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem, saying they would “negatively impact” future negotiations to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said such measures would impede the long-sought-after two-state solution to the conflict, which would leave “both parties and the whole Middle East with difficult and grave options.”
Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the secretary-general of the pan-Arab organization, repeated a common accusation that Israel could be attempting to partition the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and obliterate its Arab and Islamic identity, saying this “would fuel endless unrest and violence.”
Such claims have been made without evidence for many decades, with Israel saying it has no such plans.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.