Abbas to seek full UN membership for Palestinians
RAMALLAH – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will pursue a full United Nations membership bid during a speech on Friday that was likely meant to both make the case for membership and manage domestic expectations.
“We are going to the United Nations to attain full membership” from the United Nations Security Council, Abbas told an audience in Ramallah, tempering his rhetoric by adding that “we are not going to bring independence. Let’s not exaggerate.
“We will continue to negotiate,” he said.
Abbas says he wants the Palestinian territories “to be represented in its natural borders”. calling disputed territories inhabited by Israeli settlers “illegal”.
“We want a seat at the United Nations, and we don’t want anything more,” Abbas said.
He says Palestinian leadership does not seek to “isolate the state of Israel, but rather isolate the policies of Israe,,” saying he will head to the United Nations headquarters in New York “carrying an olive branch with us”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also expected to speak next Friday at the United Nations, has said the move could complicate the peace process and further destabilize the region.
“We have been calling all along for the Palestinians to return to negotiations,” said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.
Regev called the issue of settlements “a red herring” that he says Palestinian leaders have used to avoid talks with Israel, deciding to grandstand on the international stage instead of re-engaging in peace negotiations.
Hamas, the Palestinian organization that holds sway in Gaza, also was critical of Abbas on Friday, saying he is showing a willingness to negotiate and acknowledgement of Israel, which would “deprive the Palestinian people from their right to come back to their homeland”. “We are warning him not to go,” said senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar. “This is going to make more division inside the Palestinian people.” (CNN)