Palestinian President Receives Hero’s Welcome in West Bank

Posted September 25th, 2011 at 9:00 am (UTC-5)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told a crowd of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah that a “Palestinian Spring” has started following his historic U.N. bid submission for recognition of a Palestinian state.

Mr. Abbas received a hero's welcome Sunday as he returned to the West Bank from New York. There, he defied U.S. and Israeli appeals to drop his bid, and instead asked the United Nations General Assembly on Friday to officially recognize a state of Palestine.

The Middle East Quartet, which is made up of the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia, has called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume pace talks within a month and reach an agreement by next year.

Israel's foreign minister said Sunday he favors the Quartet plan and called on Palestinians not to look for “excuses” to stay away from the negotiating table.

The Palestinian foreign minister said Saturday the new initiative calling for the resumption of peace talks with Israel is insufficient because it does not include a call for an Israeli settlement construction freeze.

He also said the Quartet's initiative is incomplete because it does not call for an Israeli withdrawal to the borders that were in place before Israel took control of Palestinian territories in 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called to begin peace talks immediately and reaffirmed Israel's stance that peace cannot come through U.N. resolutions.

Palestinians celebrated Saturday while Israelis reacted with a mix of hope and concern over Mr. Abbas' request for U.N. statehood recognition.

U.S. President Barack Obama said recently his government would use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block any resolution recognizing the Palestinians. In his U.N. address, Mr. Obama said that the only solution was direct talks between the two sides.

The U.N. Security Council is set to discuss the Palestinians' statehood application on Monday.