Palestinians to submit statehood bid next Friday


JERUSALEM — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
formally announced Friday that he will ask the U.N. Security Council to
endorse his statehood bid, putting the United States in line for a
showdown with the Palestinians and their supporters across the Arab

So far, efforts by the Obama administration
and European diplomats to dissuade Abbas from presenting his U.N. bid
have failed. The White House opposes the move and has said it would
exercise the veto it wields at the Security Council, but Abbas left
himself some room to maneuver.

“It is our
legitimate right to demand the full membership of the state of Palestine
in the U.N.,” said Abbas, who is scheduled to address the U.N. General
Assembly next Friday, after which he’s expected to submit the official
request for U.N. membership to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He then added that he would not rule out other, “unspecified” options.

block the bid, Israel has enlisted the support of the White House. But
two senior U.S. envoys’ efforts so far to persuade the Palestinians to
enter into intensive peace talks with Israel instead have failed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the move a
violation of the peace agreements currently in place and said that it
hinders the chances of a lasting peace deal between the two sides.

Barack Obama has called the move “unnecessary” and an obstacle to
restarting long-stalled peace talks. Obama is slated to address the
United Nations on Wednesday, where a senior aide said he’d “make clear
… that these types of actions at the U.N. don’t solve the problem.”

think our fundamental message is going to be, if you support
Palestinian aspirations, if you support a Palestinian state, that the
way to accomplish it is through negotiations with Israel,” Deputy
National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Friday.

officials, for their part, have expressed interest in renewing peace
talks, but only on the condition that Israel freezes construction on its
controversial settlements.

“This is our basic
point, we cannot enter peace talks while they continue to build on land
meant for a Palestinian state,” said Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.

West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip are all lands that
Palestinians hope to define their future state. Netanyahu’s largely
right-wing coalition, however, has explicitly stated that it would not
support a freeze on building in East Jerusalem.

One European official who has been involved in recent talks said that both sides’ positions are entrenched.

are trying to move the two parties closer together, but the Israelis
have remained intractable on the issue of the settlements. The
Palestinians have also insisted that they can’t back down, though they
understand that going to the U.N. would be embarrassing for the United
States,” said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the
sensitive talks.

of the compromises currently being debated would see the Palestinians
receive full U.N. membership without a vote. The European officials said
that a motion could be presented that would give the Palestinians
membership rights, which would allow them to sit on committees or demand
investigations into Israel’s conduct.

Palestinian official involved in the bid, who wasn’t authorized to be
quoted by name, said: “Either way, our full membership in the U.N. will
cause Israel legal problems. But it is a question of how far they will
go and how many friends they are willing to lose.”

has faced increasing isolation in the region: downscaled diplomatic
relations with Turkey, a tense standoff with Jordan, and growing
hostility from Egypt, where the ouster of longtime President Hosni
Mubarak has blown the lid off of long-simmering anger over Israel’s
treatment of Palestinians in neighboring Gaza.

diplomats still have not returned to Cairo after the Israeli Embassy
there was attacked and ransacked last week by a group of Egyptian

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf
said Friday that the peace treaty between the two states is “not
sacred,” leading Israel to summon the Egyptian ambassador for

Writing in the Hebrew-language
daily Yediot Ahronot, popular columnist Nahum Barnea blamed Netanyahu
for not engaging Palestinians in a real peace process that could have
avoided the U.N. bid. He added that Israel’s current problems lay with
its deteriorating regional diplomacy.

Netanyahu is hoping to emerge victorious in the battle for Israel, the
real playing field is not New York, in the upholstered hallways of the
U.N. building, but rather between Jerusalem and Ramallah, between
Jerusalem and Ankara, Cairo, and Amman.”


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