Palestine's UN bid 'historic moment': envoy

Updated: 2012-11-28 07:45


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UNITED NATIONS - Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said on Tuesday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will submit the Palestinian bid for a non-member state status to the UN General Assembly on Thursday as planned, which will be "a historic moment" for both the Palestinians and the world body.

"You give me an impression that you are ready for a historic event on the 29th of November," Mansour said at a press conference here. "I promise you that the historic event will take place when our president, President Mahmoud Abbas, with a large Palestinian delegation, will contribute to the efforts with all our friends and the General Assembly to legislate the recognition of the State of Palestine at the United Nations and also change our status to a non-member observer state."

"That will be a historic moment in the struggle of the Palestinian people, and a historic moment in the history of the United Nations," Mansour added.

"On November 29, 2012, the General Assembly would legislate the recognition of the State of Palestine," Mansour said. "So the global consensus of the two-state solution, from the perspective of the United Nations, will legally become a reality ... that would pave the way for the possibility of serious negotiation between the two states ..."

Abbas plans to submit Palestine's second bid to upgrade its status at the United Nations on Thursday. The new bid is watered down compared to a full membership proposal that Abbas presented in September last year. This time he aims to ask the 193-member General Assembly to change Palestine's status to a non-member state.

Currently, Palestine is regarded as an observer "entity" at the United Nations. Acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state, similar to the Vatican's UN status, would implicitly recognize the Palestinian statehood.

The upgrade could also grant the Palestinians access to bodies like the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they could file complaints against Israel, the occupying power.

Israel and its closest ally, the United States, oppose the Palestinian move at the United Nations.

On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, which recognized the need to establish a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in the former British Mandate territory of Palestine.

Abbas said on Saturday at his West Bank headquarters that upgrading the Palestinian status in the United Nations to a non- member state might be the last chance for making peace in the Middle East.

"The Palestinian side is ready to return to the negotiating table as soon as getting the Palestinian state's membership," Abbas said. "This might be the last chance for making peace in the Middle East before time goes."

Despite the US opposition to the Palestinian bid, Abbas believed that "there is nothing preventing us from getting the incomplete membership in the UN."

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stopped in 2010 over a dispute on Jewish settlement activities in the West Bank, where the Palestinians wish to build their state along with the Gaza Strip.

"Our leadership and our president will be sincerely coming to the United Nations with a very important effort of trying to save the two-state solutions," Mansour said. "And with the vote of those who are interested in peace, based on justice, those who are interested in saving the two-state solution, they should be on the side of history, on the side of humanity and therefore vote in favor of our resolution."

The two-state solution, widely backed by the international community, means a secure Israel to live in peace and security with an independent State of Palestine.

The Palestinian Authority launched their watered-down bid for recognition as an "observer state" after an attempt to gain full UN membership last year failed due to strong US opposition in the Security Council.

The Palestinians are guaranteed a majority support in the 193- member UN General Assembly, which has a majority of Arab, Muslim, developing and Non-Aligned Movement countries. The new Palestinian UN bid is expected to be granted by the General Assembly by a vote of simple majority.

France has decided to vote "yes" for the Palestinian bid, Mansour said, adding that his observer mission has reached out to European countries to woo as many favorable votes as possible.

"We are delighted that a certain number (of countries) have declared their support to our draft resolution, including France and other key European countries," he said. "And I don't want to name them, I am sure they will be announcing if they have not announced already."

"It is a good thing," he said. "We worked hard with France, maybe we did not reach everything that each side wants, this is the nature of negotiations in the multilateral track."

"We have received many praises from many countries to our draft resolution from the beginning and that is a very responsible act by Palestine in order to have the largest number of countries to vote in favor," he added.

According to the Palestinian envoy, nearly 60 countries have decided to co-sponsor the draft resolution, which the Palestinians circulated here on Monday amid fresh warnings from Washington. But he did not give any further information.

The draft resolution calls on the Security Council to "consider favorably" the Palestinian request for full membership made last year. The United States, one of the five veto-wielding permanent Council members, blocked the move at the 15-nation body.

On the possible cut of US aid to the Palestinians in the wake of a successful vote at the General Assembly, Mansour said: "We believe that Palestine should not receive such threats, nor the execution of such threats."

"What we are doing is legal, is honorable, we're coming to the capital of multilateralism and through democratic discussions, we are trying to convince the largest number of countries to vote to our resolution," he said. "That is the democratic way, that is the multilateral way. We are doing it this way."