Senior Palestinian official says UN upgrade will lead to suing Israel for ‘its crimes’

Nabil Shaath, of Abbas’s Fatah party, claims nonmember status bid will receive ‘overwhelming’ support

A senior Palestinian official said Saturday that the Palestinian Authority’s bid for upgraded status at the United Nations would allow for suing Israel for “its crimes,” and that it would be met with “overwhelming” support in the General Assembly.

Nabil Shaath, a member of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, explained the political advantages of the UN petition to the Maan news agency, highlighting that it would lead to the PA’s membership in several international organizations.

“We will have political goals behind this decision — for which we will have an overwhelming majority — including that we we will become full members of international organizations, mainly the International Criminal Court,” he said, indicating the Palestinians’ intentions to pursue perceived Israeli transgressions at The Hague.

“Israel doesn’t want to be sued for its crimes,” he added.

Shaath’s belligerent remarks were in stark contrast to the conciliatory tone struck by Abbas in an interview televised Friday on Israel’s Channel 2, where he declared his willingness to restart peace negotiations.

In the interview, whose moderate content also contrasted deeply with the bitterly hostile speech the PA chief delivered to the General Assembly a month ago, Abbas urged Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to return to the negotiating table. His only condition was that Netanyahu declare his agreement to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, he said.

Abbas acknowledged to interviewer Udi Segal his intention to seek an upgrade in status for “Palestine” at the UN, but dismissed Segal’s suggestion that it was a unilateral move meant to predetermine facts on the ground. The Palestinian president responded that settlement building on the part of the Israelis was a unilateral move.

Asher Zeiger contributed to this report.

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