Abbas to put U.N. membership bid to Security Council; Obama to meet Netanyahu in NY

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he’ll ask the Security Council next week to accept the Palestinians as full members at the United Nations, as U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week in New York.

By demanding a full membership, Abbas would be risking a threatened U.S. veto, according to The Associated Press.

“We are going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organization,” Abbas said in a televised speech.

The Islamist movement Hamas hit out at plans by Abbas to apply for U.N. membership next week, saying the move was unilateral and carries “great risks.”

“We are going to the Security Council,” he said, to rapturous applause from his audience of Palestinian leaders. “As for other options, we have not yet taken a decision on them,” he said, according to Reuters.

In response to Abbas’s statements, Netanyahu’s office, meanwhile, said that the Palestinians would not achieve peace through their “unilateral” bid for U.N. membership.

“Peace is not achieved by a unilateral approach to the U.N.,” it said in a statement.

Both Israel and the United States are firmly opposed to such a move, arguing that a Palestinian state can only be created through direct negotiations.

“Peace talks have reached a dead end due to the Israeli defiant stand,” said Abbas. He added that the Palestinian Liberation Organization will remain to represent the Palestinian people until the whole issue is resolved.

“All the world institutions said that we are ready to declare our state
Abbas: More than 126 countries have acknowledged the Palestinian state,” he said,

Washington has already said it will veto any statehood resolution in the Security Council and some U.S. politicians have said they will try to cut American aid to the Palestinians, totaling some $500 million a year, if they refuse to back down.

If the United States does veto the resolution, the Palestinians could then go to the full U.N. General Assembly. It does not have the power to grant the Palestinians membership, but could recognize it as a non-member state.

Such a move would give the Palestinians possible access to other international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, from where it could seek to sue Israel for the longstanding occupation of the West Bank.

Abbas said he wanted to see a Palestinian state recognized on the basis of the 1967 lines, comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, adding that this would then enable the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel.

He stressed that any popular protests in support of his initiative should be peaceful. Israel fears that the U.N. showdown could spark violence across the West Bank and is putting its forces on high alert in the area.

Abbas is due to address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23, when he said he would present Palestine’s membership bid.

U.S. President Barack Obama anticipates a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week in New York, but no talks are so far planned for him with Abbas, AFP reported.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor, said that the president expected to meet Netanyahu amid the Palestinian drive for statehood recognition at the United Nations General Assembly next week, but no time has yet been set.

“The goal of the meeting is to determine what is the best way to get the parties back together,” Rhodes said.

Obama has already said the United States will veto any attempt by the Palestinians to seek statehood recognition in the Security Council, saying it will do little to frame a genuine Palestinian state on the ground.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday she saw a “growing recognition” among the “parties in the region” that it would be best for the Palestinians to abandon a bid for U.N. membership.

Clinton, at a joint news conference after talks with Australia in San Francisco, said she did not want to set odds of success for the U.S.-led diplomatic effort to ward off the U.N. bid, but that she saw growing support.

The United States has sent envoys to the region in a last-minute bid to thwart the Palestinians’ effort for membership at the United Nations, a move vehemently opposed by Israel.

Clinton voiced hope that Israel and the Palestinians could resume negotiations along the contours of a framework laid out by Obama in May.