Palestinian Official: Abbas Stays Course on UN Membership Bid

Posted September 22nd, 2011 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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A senior Palestinian official says President Mahmoud Abbas will formally ask the U.N. Security Council to recognize Palestine as a full member of the world body on Friday, despite U.S. President Barack Obama's threat to veto the move.

The Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa quotes Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo as saying Thursday the Palestinian president believes the bid for U.N. membership will not prevent serious peace negotiations with Israel.

U.S. officials say President Obama told Mr. Abbas that Washington will veto the Palestinian bid if it comes to a vote in the Security Council. The two leaders met Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York.

In a speech to the 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.”

Abed Rabbo acknowledged that the Security Council will take some time to consider the Palestinian application, but said Mr. Abbas' government will not accept any extension to the statutory period for council deliberations.

In his General Assembly speech, 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.