PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Israel news photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed his bid for UN membership on Tuesday, saying it should complement peace negotiations, provided that Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of the 1949 armistice lines.

According to a report by The Associated Press, Abbas said the PA’s decision to apply to join the United Nations “is our legitimate right” based on the 1947 UN resolution to form a Jewish and an Arab state in the region.

He said, “We do not want and we do not seek to delegitimize Israel by applying for membership in the United Nations, but to delegitimize its settlement activities and the seizure of our occupied lands.”

The remarks were made in a message sent by Abbas for the UN’s annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”. The message was read by the PA’s UN observer Riyad Mansour.

Abbas submitted the bid for membership to the UN Security Council in September, but the plan fell through when the PA could not secure the nine votes required for the bid to pass. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) recently announced that it now plans to seek a non-member state status for Palestine at the UN General Assembly.

Abbas said in his message on Tuesday that the sanctions imposed on the PA by Israel after it was accepted as a member in UNESCO were “unjust” and said, “Israel has no right to seize and confiscate the proceeds of the customs duties and tax revenues which belong to the Palestinian people.”

He urged people around the world to support the PA’s quest to become a “free and sovereign state,” which he said would be democratic and peaceful with no discrimination on the basis of religion or race. This is contrary to previous statements made by PLO officials, Abbas included, that the Palestinian state would be “Judenrein” - Jew-free.

Meanwhile, AP reported that Iceland’s parliament voted on Tuesday to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

According to a statement posted on the parliament’s website, it had passed the motion, with 38 of 63 votes in favor of a resolution to recognize Palestine “as an independent and sovereign state” based on the 1949 armistice lines.

The resolution also recognizes the PLO as the legal authority for the state and urges Israel and “Palestine” to reach a peace agreement, according to AP.