Palestinian authority rejects calls to postpone statehood bid

Palestinian President Mahmoud AbbasPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he intends on pressing forward with a statehood bid at the United Nations next week. He has turned down requests from the US, Britain, Germany and France to delay the bid.

Abbas will formally request that the UN General Assembly upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) status from observer to nonmember state on November 29. The Assembly will be asked to vote on the measure.

“There is nothing that stops us from obtaining the status of non-member observer…we are sure that the countries of the free world will support us,” Abbas said in a statement.

Palestinian officials told Al-Ayyam news that they hoped the recent Israeli Defense Forces operation in Gaza would encourage countries to vote in favor of upgrading the PA’s status.

Officials said they would spend the coming days attempting to persuade European Union governments to vote in favor of the bid. The PA is, however, expecting most EU countries to abstain during the vote.

The PA said it expects the Assembly to vote two-thirds in favor of granting the PA nonmember status.

Unsurprisingly, the US is not expected to be part of that two-thirds bloc.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said earlier this week that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Abbas that Palestinians “would destroy themselves politically” by pressing forward with the bid.

Last year, the US used its veto power to block a similar Palestinian statehood bid at the UN Security Council. However, no country has veto power in the General Assembly.

Erekat has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of undermining the PA in order to maintain control of the West Bank, while trying to push Gaza politically closer to Egypt.

“To stop this strategy, the only avenue is to go to the UN, and place Palestine as a geographic entity, as a state,”Erekat told AP.

Hana Amireh, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said that the statehood bid has become “very urgent” after Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense. She said the assault “mobilized widespread support for the Palestinians.”

The IDF operation ended on Wednesday with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. The assault led to the deaths of 166 Palestinians, mostly unarmed civilians and women and children, and six Israelis.