BEIRUT

Middle East

Palestinian UN non-state bid this month: Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech to mark the eighth anniversary of the death of the late leader Yasser Arafat, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 11, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinians will submit a bid to the General Assembly for non-state membership of the United Nations later this month, president Mahmud Abbas said on Sunday.

"We're going to the United Nations in November 2012, not 2013, or 2014," Abbas said at an event commemorating the eighth anniversary of the death of veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"Israel's hysterical reaction to our UN bid is due to its desire to continue the occupation and we are under pressure of late from multiple parties to waive our just demand, but we will not," Abbas added.

The UN bid was "the only way to address the assault of settlement activity and to save the two-state solution," he said.

Palestinian envoys to the United Nations on Thursday unveiled the resolution they plan to submit to the General Assembly seeking observer state status.

The resolution would call on the assembly to accord observer membership and urge the UN Security Council to "consider favourably" an application Abbas made for full membership last year.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Arab League head Nabil al-Arabi offered his support for the bid, which he called "an important move to assert the rights of the Palestinians to their land."

If the bid succeeds, he said, "the Palestinian territories will be considered a country under occupation."

According to a poll carried out by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Centre, published on Sunday, 48 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe the UN bid will "benefit" the Palestinian cause.

Just 12 percent thought it would be "to the detriment of the Palestinian cause," while 36 percent felt it would be neither beneficial nor detrimental.

With direct peace talks on hold for more than two years, the Palestinians have sought to push for their long-promised state in other ways, in particular by upgrading their status at the UN.

They tried last year to obtain full membership at the United Nations through the Security Council, but the bid stalled over the opposition of the United States, which wields veto powers.

This year, the Palestinians said they would instead seek enhanced status at the General Assembly, where no one member can block a resolution, and they are expected to comfortably win sufficient support.

Abbas gave no date for the resolution's submission on Sunday, but officials have floated the dates of either November 15 or 29.

The move is fiercely opposed by Israel, and Israeli ministers have reportedly already met to discuss potential sanctions against the Palestinians if they proceed with the bid.

Among the responses reportedly being weighed is a plan to suspend the transfer of tax and tariff funds collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli media has said the government is also considering reducing the number of Israeli work permits for Palestinians in the wake of any new UN bid.

 

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