Palestinian officials report: Abbas advancing his bid for UN recognition

Despite continued pressure from both  Israel & the US, Mahmoud Abbas is expected to ask the UN General Assembly to approve request for “nonmember state” status this November.

Palestinian officials say Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is moving forward with his plan to seek upgraded observer status at the United Nations next month, despite American and Israeli threats of financial or diplomatic retaliation.

Abbas at the UN General Assembly

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. – Photo by AP

One official said Abbas is expected to ask the UN General Assembly to approve a Palestinian request for “nonmember state” status on November 15 or November 29. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal decision has been made.

Both dates are symbolic. November 15 is the anniversary of the 1988 Palestinian declaration of independence and November 29 is the anniversary of the 1947 UN decision to partition what was then British-ruled Palestine into Israeli and Arab territories. Jewish leaders agreed, but Arabs rejected the plan, war erupted, and the Palestinians remain without a state.

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s position paper asking to enhance Palestine’s United Nations status, distributed to European governments last week, emphasized that the request is a follow-up to its existing application for UN membership, submitted on September 23, 2011.

The PLO document argues that UN recognition is necessary to “achieve the ultimate objective of the two-state solution and to expedite its realization at a time when Israel is incessantly and recklessly undermining that solution and the prospects for achieving a just peace.”

However, senior Foreign Ministry officials and Israeli diplomats abroad have been warning of a scenario in which Israel’s government “goes crazy” the day after the UN vote. And far from being insulted, politicians are encouraging this campaign.

“We suggest that the European Union take Israel’s political needs into account,” said a document ministry staffers prepared for Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon before his meeting last week with EU envoy Andreas Reinicke. “Israel is entering a campaign season, and consideration must be given to the fact that its government, too, is liable to find itself under political pressure to respond suitably to unilateral Palestinian moves.”

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