09/23/2011, 00.00
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Abbas asks Ban Ki-moon for a Palestinian seat in UN

The request must go through the Security Council, where the United States have threatened to use their veto. However, for Palestinians, it is already a first victory. The United Nations is talking about a Palestinian state for the first time in more than 60 years, and even the international community is forced to pay attention to Israeli-Palestinian talks. In Jerusalem, 22,000 soldiers are deployed to prevent violence. Demonstrations and celebrations in Palestinian cities.
New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Despite Israel’s diplomatic offensive and US President Barack Obama’s veto threat, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented a written request for UN recognition of a Palestinian state as a full member of the United Nations “within the boundaries of 1967” to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The request stems from the frustration caused by the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to stop settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories, which jeopardise the birth of a Palestinian State.

After meeting Ban Ki-moon, Abbas delivered an impassioned speech to the United Nations assembly, ending with a plea for a Palestinian state. Most delegates stood and gave him a standing ovation.

Full membership requires a vote by a majority in the Security Council with no veto. Given the US opposition, this route appears closed. However, Abbas has pursed this path, scoring at least one favourable point, namely the return of the Palestinian question in world chancelleries. Only a few months ago, he reminded the New York Times that “The only other time the United Nations mentioned a Palestinian state was in 1948 (see “Mahmoud Abbas: At last, a Palestinian state after 60 years," in AsiaNews, 18 May 2011).

The request has also revealed the ambiguity of the US position. A few days ago, Fatah’s Nabil Shaat said that the Palestinian leadership took the decision to apply for UN membership after encouragement from US envoys Hale and Ross.

This is explains the highly critical banners at rallies in support of a UN recognition in Nablus. Some said in fact, referring to next year’s US election, “Shame on those who claim to be democratic”, and “Obama wants to buy votes with Palestinian blood”.

The so-called quartet (United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia) has tried to come up with an agenda of possible talks and solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian problem, whilst rejecting the Palestinians’ bid for a UN seat.

Still, the Security Council is not going to vote today. In fact, Abbas is hoping that his request will be given enough time to allow the United States to change its mind.

Only if the Security Council rejects his request will Abbas ask the General Assembly to grant Palestine (and not the Palestine Liberation Organisation as is the case now) observer status. In that case, the vote goes to the whole body without any veto. Abbas is almost certain that his bid would get at least 129 seats, or more than two thirds of the member states.

Even European nations in the Security Council, who are not sure on how to vote, were encouraged by Javier Solana and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari to vote in Palestine’s favour in the General Assembly.

In the meantime, Israel has deployed 22,000 soldiers in Jewish-Arab areas and along the ‘green line’ between East and West Jerusalem to avoid possible violence once the Palestinian request in made at the United Nations.

In many Palestinian cities, non-violent demonstrations have been held. People are celebrating the event with songs and waving flags.
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See also
The embassy of the new “Palestinian state” opens in Beirut
Vatican in favour of limits on veto power in UN
Few expect much from meeting between Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas
For Obama talks between Israel and Palestine are urgent, but no one is budging
Obama's veto against the Palestinian State: satisfaction in Israel, hope for Hamas


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