Abbas vows to proceed with statehood bid despite U.S. warnings


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, pictured above in Berlin earlier this year, said Thursday that even if a last-minute formula for resuming peace talks were found, the Palestinians would still go to the U.N. and then negotiate with Israel as a state under occupation. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
September 8, 2011

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the Palestinians are resolved to go ahead with their bid for recognition of statehood at the United Nations this month despite warnings from U.S. officials that the move could lead to a confrontation with Washington.

Even if a last-minute formula for resuming peace talks were found before then, the Palestinians would go to the United Nations and then negotiate with Israel as a state under occupation, Abbas said.

“Now . . . I don’t think it’s workable,” he said of efforts by international mediators to come up with a diplomatic package to head off the U.N. bid. “They came too late.”

Abbas, who met Wednesday with David Hale, the Obama administration’s acting special envoy to the Middle East, said U.S. officials had “talked about some sort of confrontation” with the Palestinians over the statehood bid.

“We told them that we don’t want a confrontation, neither with the Americans nor with anybody else,” Abbas said in a meeting with foreign reporters in his office. “They are our friends. We don’t want a confrontation, but let us express our ideas, our hope. We are a people without hope now.”

Abbas said that even if last-ditch efforts produced a formula for the resumption of negotiations that met Palestinian demands for a freeze on Israeli settlement building and talks on a peace deal based on Israel’s 1967 boundaries, the Palestinians would still go to the United Nations.

“We will read it. If it satisfies us, of course, we will say yes, and we will go to the United Nations, and return back and resume our talks with the Israelis,” he said. “Whatever the results are at the United Nations, we are ready to return back to the negotiating table.”

If the Palestinians win U.N. recognition, Abbas said, “we will be a state under occupation, and we will talk accordingly and negotiate accordingly with the Israelis — of course, with the support of the United Nations.”

Abbas sought to allay concerns that a U.N. vote in favor of Palestinian statehood would lead to unrest in the West Bank and possible confrontations with Israeli troops and settlers.

“From our side, no confrontations, no chaos,” he said. “There will be demonstrations inside the cities to support us in the U.N., but nothing will happen. Our instructions were very strict: Don’t go to the roadblocks, don’t make any friction with the Israelis, don’t run to the Israelis. If they come to the cities, don’t react.”

“We will keep security, law and order, and that’s it,” he said.

Abbas said the Palestinians would ask the U.N. Security Council for admission to the United Nations as a member state, a move the Obama administration has said it will veto. “This is the beginning,” he said, adding that further steps would be decided at the United Nations.

Palestinian officials say their next option would be to take the matter to the U.N. General Assembly, where there is no veto and a majority is expected to support upgrading the Palestinian representation to the status of a non-member state. That would clear the way for the Palestinians to join U.N. bodies and conventions, and it could enable them to pursue claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians were re-launched a year ago but broke down quickly in a dispute over continued Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

Abbas has said that for talks to resume, Israel should suspend construction in West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem and agree that the basis of negotiations would be Israel’s 1967 boundaries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects a building freeze and has demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, a step they reject.

Administration officials have cautioned the Palestinians about calls in the U.S. Congress to scale back aid to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority in response to the U.N. move, the State Department said this week.

“We don’t threaten,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday. “But we are making sure that they are hearing the voices in Congress, which are getting increasingly loud on this subject.”

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read World