Abbas to Seek UN Recognition for Palestine as Israel Boosts Security

Posted September 22nd, 2011 at 7:15 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is prepared to formally ask the United Nations Security Council to recognize Palestine as a full member of the world body on Friday, as Israel beefed up security ahead of the controversial move.

Mr. Abbas has rebuffed all appeals to drop the statehood bid, saying he would submit the application to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon as planned.

U.S. and European efforts in New York to avoid a diplomatic confrontation showed little sign of progress Thursday.

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.

An aide to Mr. Abbas said Thursday the Palestinian president believes the bid for U.N. membership will not prevent serious peace negotiations with Israel.

Meanwhile, an Israeli defense official 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, Mr. 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.”

Mr. Obama empathized with Israel's struggle in a region with hostile neighbors, saying the Jewish people “carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution” and “forged a successful state in their historic homeland.”

He made no mention of Palestinian grievances including Israel's occupation and settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim for a future state.

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 Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives warned Thursday that Congress “likely will reconsider” U.S. aid to the Palestinians and other aspects of bilateral relations if Mr. 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. Mr. 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.