Abbas vows to move UN for full membership

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Abbas vows to move UN for full membership

Mahmud Abbas vowed on Friday to lodge a bid for UN membership before the Security Council in one week, despite mounting Israeli and US opposition.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sat 17 Sep 2011, 1:04 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:41 AM

His comments came after Israel boosted its army presence in the West Bank as fears emerged that the Palestinians may resort to the International Criminal Court over Jewish settlements, reports said.

The daily Yediot Aharonot said three battalions of reservists — some 1,500 personnel — have been mobilised and units already in the occupied territory have been reinforced.

The move comes ahead of expected Palestinian demonstrations as their statehood bid looms at the United Nations on September 23, public radio said.

Later, in a televised address to the Palestinian people from his Ramallah headquarters, Abbas declared: “We are going to the Security Council.

“When I have finished delivering my speech (to the General Assembly), I will submit the request for membership to the Secretary General to be passed to the president of the Security Council,” he said.

“It is our legitimate right to demand the full membership of the state of Palestine in the UN,” he said, “to put an end to a historical injustice by attaining liberty and independence, like the other peoples of the earth, in a Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967.”

He was referring to the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, including Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Israel says those lines are indefensible and the borders of a future Palestinian state must be defined in bilateral negotiations.

It swiftly responded to Abbas’s speech by saying the UN bid would not bring the Palestinians peace, and slamming a reconciliation deal announced in May between Abbas’s Fatah movement and the militant Islamist Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

“Peace is not achieved by a unilateral approach to the UN, and not by associating with the Hamas terror organisation,” said a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

“Peace will only be attained by direct negotiation with Israel,” it added.

Hamas itself hit out at Abbas’s strategy, to which it is not a party, saying that it could weaken the campaign to allow Palestinian refugees back to their former homes and delegitimise armed opposition to Israeli occupation.

“(It) carries numerous risks and could violate national rights such as the right of return, the right of resistance and self-determination,” said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

The United States says the basis for an agreement should be the 1967 borders but with mutually agreed amendments.

Netanyahu says he will also appear before the UN to explain Israel’s opposition to the Palestinian. Like Abbas he is to speak on September 23, a government official told AFP.

The White House says he is also likely to meet US President Barack Obama in New York.

Washington has threatened to veto a Palestinian membership motion at the Security Council, saying it would harm prospects for peace talks and that a Palestinian state can only result from negotiations with Israel.

“We believe strongly that the road to peace and two states living side by side does not go through New York, it goes through Jerusalem and Ramallah,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday.

Following Abbas’s speech on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that his country would also oppose the Palestinan bid.

“Unilateral actions like this are unhelpful in terms of establishing peace in the Middle East,” Harper told reporters. “Canada views the action as very regrettable and we will be opposing it at the United Nations.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Palestinians to return to talks with Israel and said the peace deadlock was harming the whole Middle East.

“I am asking them to enter into meaningful negotiations and the international community has a duty to create some conditions favourable to this,” Ban told a news conference at the United Nations.

He said Israel’s approval of permits for new settlements in the occupied territories “has not been helpful.”

“At the same time, Palestinians should also try to sit together with Israeli people.”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Friday that Israeli officials fear the Palestinians may launch legal action against settlements if their bid for upgraded UN status bears fruit.

It said that Netanyahu had on Thursday told EU and US envoys of his concerns about a possible Palestinian recourse to the International Criminal Court in The Hague over the settlers issue.

The premier, it said, had expressed his fears at meetings with US, EU and Quartet envoys holding talks with Israel and Palestinian leaders in an effort to get them back into direct peace talks that stalled a year ago.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a Palestinian ICC recourse “would be worrying, given that it would demonstrate that they seek to perpetuate conflict instead of seeking peace.”

But the official also believed that “Israel has little to worry about in this case as it has not ratified the Treaty of Rome recognising the authority of the ICC, and is not therefore bound to implement its rulings.”

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