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Abbas Threatens Renewed UN Statehood Bid

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he will turn to the UN General Assembly for recognition if Israel does not capitulate to his demands
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/9/2012, 7:50 PM

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he will turn to the UN General Assembly for recognition if Israel does not capitulate to his demands.

A previous bid for recognition in the United Nations Security Council – which must approve all moves for full membership in the world body – was stopped dead by the specter of a veto from the United States.

Approval would require 9 affirmative recommendations in the council and no negative recommendations from the five permanent, veto-wielding, members - Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States.

The PLO – currently listed as an observer "entity" with no voting rights – applied for full membership of the UN on Sept. 23. An admissions committee said on Nov. 11 it had failed to reach an agreement on the bid.

Even without the promised US veto in play, the current composition of the 15-member decision making council remains unfavorable to the PA bid as Ramallah cannot muster sufficient affirmative votes.

It had been suggested that Ramallah could instead seek upgraded observer status via the General Assembly to make it a non-member observer state – like the Vatican – but Abbas angrily rejected the proposal.

Nonetheless, Abbas' change of heart on Sunday is no surprise. Last Tuesday, Abbas telegraphed the move saying a unilateral track at the United Nations “is our right and we will turn to the UN again."

The threat to again pursue a unilateral track at the United Nations in violation of the 1994 Oslo Accords comes as chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat prepares to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu outlining Ramallah's demands.

The letter is expected to reiterate Ramallah's preconditions that Israel accept the indefensible pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a PA state, release all Arab terrorists from its prisons, and again halt all construction in the 'disputed territories.'

Presidential adviser Nimir Hammad indicated earlier that Palestinian envoys would deliver the message next week, but negotiator Saeb Erekat told Ma'an on Sunday they were still waiting for Israeli confirmation of the meeting.

Last week, sources close to Netanyahu said the Prime Minister will reply to Abbas demanding he returns to negotiations without preconditions.

Netanyahu is also expected to demand Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state and agree to security arrangements in any peace agreement.

The official said Netanyahu would finalize his response after receiving Abbas' letter.

Critics say Netanyahu's government has failed to adapt to a new paradigm in which PLO officials pursue a unilateral track while forestalling bilateral talks with unacceptable preconditions.

In December 2011, PLO officials announced "a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."