Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced on Monday that the PA will present its bid for non-state UN membership, despite U.S. and Israeli opposition, AFP reported.
Following talks with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo, “it has been agreed that the request will be presented on November 29,” Abbas told reporters, calling for support from Arab states.
The November 29 date was chosen on purpose, as it is the anniversary of the day in 1947 in which the United Nations voted in favor of the partition plan. The resolution recommended the creation of two states, one Arab, one Jewish and granted a small portion of the area, under the British Mandate, to the new Jewish state.
The announcement was made a day after Abbas responded to U.S. President Barack Obama with a direct “no” when told the U.S. administration is opposed to the PA’s unilateral move at the United Nations.
In a phone conversation with Abbas on Sunday, Obama “reiterated the United States’ opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations”, according to a White House statement released after the conversation.
“We don’t want any confrontations with the United States or Israel. If we could start a dialogue or negotiations the day after the vote, we will,” Abbas said, according to AFP.
“We know we are a country under occupation, but we want our land which was occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. Israel says Palestinian lands are disputed and open to negotiation, and is hurrying to build settlements, covering Jerusalem with settlements,” he accused.
Abbas met earlier on Monday in Riyadh with Saudi King Abdullah, before travelling to Cairo for an Arab League meeting.
Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh told a news conference in Ramallah that the bid had been delayed at Washington’s request until after last week’s U.S. presidential election.
“Now there is no excuse for anybody to ask us not to go to the United Nations,” Shtayeh said, according to AFP.
“President Abbas will attend the Assembly General session for the vote,” his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, told AFP.
Shtayeh played down threats by Israel to take punitive measures against the PA should it press ahead with its UN bid, saying he believed any response would be relatively limited.
“I think that most of these measures that have been declared will be empty threats,” AFP quoted him as having said.
“Israel has a vested interest in maintaining the status of the Palestinian Authority as it stands today and I don’t think that the Israelis are in a position to push this Palestinian Authority to a total collapse,” said Shtayeh.
He added the Arab League had promised the PA a financial safety net in the event of punitive Israeli sanctions.
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio on Monday that PA officials were working to have the League pledge implemented.
“We are trying to activate the decision related to the Arab safety network, valued at $100 million monthly, in case Israel blocks our money and the U.S. closes the PLO office and halts aid,” he said.
Erekat said “Obama did not utter any threats but there are threats from the Congress, which has a draft bill, according to which it would demand closing the PLO office in Washington and cutting off aid” if the UN bid goes ahead.
Channel 10 News reported last week that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has threatened that if the PA goes ahead with its unilateral statehood bid he “will work to ensure the PA will collapse.”
Lieberman reportedly stressed that a unilateral statehood bid by the PA will “put an end to the chances to resume peace negotiations.”
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz also threatened the PA on Saturday, saying that Israel would once again halt the transfer of the taxes it collects for the Palestinian Authority if it pursues its statehood bid.