Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat Israel News photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority has decided, in effect, that going to the United Nations to meet its territorial and political demands is part of the “peace process” that until now has required direct talks with Israel.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas plans to make a plea for his demands at the UN General Assembly next Thursday, the same day Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will deliver an address. Abbas will ask the international community to upgrade its status from observer entity to that of a non-member observer state,” AFP reported.

"We want Palestine back on the map on the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, carried by 150 to 170 nations," PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said. The PA needs only the support of 97 of the 194 member countries, but the backing of 150 nations would give it a psychological victory to boost its unilateral demands that it has failed to achieve through direct discussion with Israel and which PA leaders still call “negotiations.”

In a twist of concepts and words, Erekat claimed to reporters in Jericho that going to the UN and circumventing direct talks, part of the US-backed Oslo Accords’ peace process, is actually part of it.

"No one is talking about canceling the peace process," he said.

He made it clear that the Palestinian Authority’ intentions are to become a de facto recognized country and that the real “negotiations” will focus only on a timetable for Israel to expel Jews who live in parts of Jerusalem, as well as all of the rest of Judea and Samaria, which is claimed by the PA.

"The day after (we get) non-member statehood, life will not be the same," Erekat proclaimed. "After the UN vote ... Palestine will become a country under occupation. Israel will not be able to say that this is a disputed area. The terms of reference for any negotiations will be about withdrawal, not over what the Israelis say is legal or not legal."

No substantial talks have been conducted for more than two years even after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to Abbas demands to stop building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria. The PA leader rejected returning to talks because, he said at the time, the freeze did not extend to all of Jerusalem.

Last year, Abbas backed down from an attempt to win full membership in the United Nations when it became clear he would fall one vote short of the two-thirds majority support needed in the United Nations Security Council. This year, he has decided to settle for non-member observer status, which does not need Security Council approval and is not subject to a veto of any country.

Erekat said they had not yet set a date for the formal submission of the non-member status resolution. One idea is to submit the resolution on November 29, the anniversary of the United Nations' acceptance of the Partition Plan that drew up a Jewish and Arab state west of the Jordan River and which the Palestinian Authority has turned into a day of protests.