Abbas eyeing unity and reconciliation after UN vote

Updated: 2012-12-02 23:05


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RAMALLAH - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday said that achieving national reconciliation will be the first step he will take.

Abbas was speaking to thousands of people who gathered at the Palestinian presidency headquarters in the West Bank to welcome him. He came back from New York, where the United Nations granted Palestine the status of a non-member observer state.

"We have many tasks. The first and most important one is restoring our national unity and making reconciliation," Abbas said, referring to the split between his Fatah party and Islamic Hamas movement, which holds sway in the Gaza Strip.

Responding to the crowds who intercepted his speech by chanting "People Want to End Division," Abbas said that next day will see accelerated efforts toward reconciliation.

Developments on the ground helped ending historical incitement between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas supported Abbas' bid to the UN and allowed Fatah supporters to took to the streets on November 29 to celebrate the General Assembly's voting on a Palestinian observer state.

Abbas said the voting was "a distinction in our national struggle march," noting that about 75 percent of the world supported the Palestinian request to join the international body as an observer state instead of an observer entity.

"The message was clear: we are not alone and the world is with us, the history with us and the future is for us and Allah is with us," Abbas said.

The United States and Israel were on the top of the nine countries that voted No, while 138 countries voted in favor of the Palestinian bid. There was 41 abstentions.

Abbas noted that "the Palestinian victory provoked the powers of war, settlement and occupation." He was referring to Israel's decision to speed up the building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as a future capital.

"There are huge challenges and obstacles on our way," Abbas told the crowds who waved his posters and banners and Palestinian flags. "The people who made this victory are able to protect and develop it until sweeping the occupation and making independence."