News / Middle East

    Abbas Rebuffs Appeals, Plans Statehood Bid at UN General Assembly

    Palestinians take part in a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron September 21, 2011.
    Palestinians take part in a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron September 21, 2011.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to formally ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state as a full member of the world body, despite opposition from the United States and Israel.

    Abbas has rebuffed all appeals to drop the statehood bid, saying he would submit the application to U.N. Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon on Friday.

    U.S. and European efforts in New York to avoid a diplomatic confrontation showed little sign of progress Thursday.  Envoys from the Middle East Quartet are expected to meet Friday on restarting Israeli - Palestinian negotiations.

    The United States and Israel are pressuring Security Council members to either vote against the plan or abstain when it comes up for a vote. Even if the Palestinians manage to secure backing, the U.S. has pledged to veto the measure.

    The Security Council could take weeks to consider the application, which would allow more time for diplomacy before the Palestinians consider their next move -  approaching the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade their status to a non-voting observer state.

    Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said Thursday the Palestinian president believes the bid for U.N. membership will not prevent serious peace negotiations with Israel.

    Meanwhile, Israeli defense official Mickey Rosenfeld said the country's military, border patrol and police would coordinate a heightened alert level and that security forces would deploy into sensitive areas.

    In a speech to the General Assembly on Wednesday, Obama said the path to achieving a sovereign Palestinian state is direct negotiations between the two sides, not "statements and resolutions at the United Nations."

    Hundreds of Palestinians protested Mr. Obama's speech in the West Bank towns of Ramallah and Nablus on Thursday, holding anti-Obama signs and accusing him of being biased toward Israel.

    The number two lawmakers in the House of Representatives  Republican Eric Cantor and Democrat Steny Hoyer warned Thursday that Congress "likely will reconsider" U.S. aid to the Palestinians and other aspects of bilateral relations if Abbas requests a U.N. vote on statehood.

    But in a show of support for the Palestinians, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for international pressure on Israel to make peace with the Palestinians.  Erdogan said Israeli leaders "must see that real security is only possible by building real peace." He said Israel has continually flouted U.N. authority.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

     

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