Washington, Sept. 16 - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised speech today that he will go directly to the U.N. Security Council to pursue a unilateral bid for full statehood, bypassing negotiations with Israel and ignoring international concerns.
The proposal Abbas outlined included a state along 1967 lines, with no mention of land swaps or other flexibility for Israel, and putting East Jerusalem under Palestinian control as their capital. Abbas also said he would regard convicted Palestinian terrorists as prisoners of war.
“We are going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organization,” said Abbas, who is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly next Friday (Sept. 23).
President Obama already has said he would veto the Palestinian’s one-sided statehood bid in the U.N. Security Council and that the only way to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict is through negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. Abbas abandoned peace talks a year ago after Israel declined to extend its voluntary building freeze.
U.S. lawmakers have said they would cut their $513 million annual funding to the Palestinian Authority if it decides to seek statehood without first negotiating with Israel.
Abbas, who has called for mass Palestinian demonstrations when he addresses the General Assembly said he wants Palestinians to protest peacefully. However, the Palestinian Authority already has ordered riot gear from Israel in anticipation of violence during demonstrations in Palestinian-controlled areas.
Abbas said he seeks a Palestinian state that would unify the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas has control over the West Bank, but Gaza is ruled by Iran-backed Hamas, a terrorist organization that continues to call for Israel’s destruction and has derided Abbas’ Palestinian state bid.
A future Palestinian state would be democratic, Abbas said, with freedom of speech and equal rights for women, liberties that don’t exist under Abbas’ control of the West Bank or in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will also address the U.N. General Assembly next Friday, has called numerous times for the Palestinians to return to negotiations, with no preconditions. Netanyahu said Thursday (Sept. 15) that he would agree to an upgrade of the Palestinian status in the United Nations, but would not accede to full statehood until the Palestinians are willing to return to the peace table to hammer out issues of borders, security and other basic negotiating points.
The European Union and U.S. envoys have spent the past week meeting with Abbas to encourage him to tone down his request and instead seek nonmember status within the United Nations, giving the PA the same standing as the Vatican. The European Union and the United States have both expressed concern that achieving statehood in the United Nations would not resolve serious differences between Israel and the Palestinians.