United Nations, Sept 20: The Palestinians brushed aside heated Israeli objections and a promised U.S. veto on Monday, vowing to submit a letter formally requesting full U.N. membership when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the General Assembly.
As the Palestinians edged closer to seeking statehood recognition from the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Mr. Abbas to meet with him in New York. The Israel leader said he wanted to resume peace talks, upping the pressure on Mr. Abbas and building on the frenzied diplomacy swirling around the Palestinians' bid.
Regardless, Mr. Abbas said he had not been swayed by what he called “tremendous pressure” to drop the bid for United Nations recognition and instead to resume peace talks with Israel. Senior aides to the Palestinian leader said Mr. Abbas was undaunted by threats of punitive measures.
Nabil Shaath, senior aide to Mr. Abbas, told The Associated Press that the Palestinian leader informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during their meeting on Monday that he would present him with a letter requesting full membership on Friday, ahead of Mr. Abbas' speech to the General Assembly. Mr. Abbas also met with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Any candidate for U.N. membership must submit a letter to the Secretary-General stating it is a “peace-loving” state and accepts the U.N. Charter. Mr. Ban is expected to examine the Palestinian letter and then send it to the 15-member U.N. Security Council which must give its approval before a vote in the larger General Assembly.
Another Abbas aide, Mohammed Ishtayey, said the letter will state - “Palestine is a peace-loving state and has contributed to human civilization, that it has succeeded in building state institutions.” It would also include the need to consider the pre-1967 Mideast War borders as those of the Palestinian state, he said.
Mr. Shaath said the Secretary-General promised to “speed up the discussion of the request” in his office.
Palestinians have for decades complained of being guests in their own land. Although any submission by the Palestinians could wait weeks or months for U.N. action, it has sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity with mediators scrambling to find a way to draw the two sides back to the negotiating table.
Mr. Shaath said last ditch efforts to dissuade the Palestinian President from approaching the Security Council had failed and that offers had fallen short of Palestinian aspirations. He said Palestinians had been threatened with harsh punitive measures but that they had decided to move ahead nonetheless.
The comment appeared to refer to the warnings by some in the U.S. Congress that current and future financial aid to the Palestinian Authority could be in jeopardy if they move ahead with the membership bid.
In a statement, Mr. Netanyahu called on Mr. Abbas to begin “direct negotiations in New York and continue them in Jerusalem and Ramallah.” But the statement provided no other details or indications that Mr. Netanyahu was willing to cede to any of the Palestinians' demands. AP