‘Palestine to seek vote on UN membership by Nov 29’

PTI Ramallah | Updated on March 12, 2018

Palestinian officials said today their bid for non-state UN membership, opposed by the US and Israel, would take place by November 29 with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas attending.

“We will ask the members of the General Assembly to vote on this resolution no later than November 29,” negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh told journalists at a press conference.

He said the exact date would be announced tomorrow by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi at a session of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, adding that the bid had been delayed at Washington’s request until after the US presidential election.

“Now there is no excuse for anybody to ask us not to go to the United Nations,” Shtayeh said.

“President Abbas will attend the Assembly General session for the vote,” his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, told AFP.

Israeli officials have threatened punitive measures if the Palestinian initiative goes ahead, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman pledging to “ensure the collapse” of Abbas’ Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA).

Shtayeh, however, said he believed any response would be relatively limited.

“I think that most of these measures that have been declared will be empty threats,” he said.

“Israel has a vested interest in maintaining the status of the Palestinian Authority as it stands today and I don’t think that the Israelis are in a position to push this Palestinian Authority to a total collapse.”

He added the Arab League had promised the PA a financial safety net in the event of punitive Israeli sanctions.

Another Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, told the official Voice of Palestine radio that PA officials were working to have the League pledge implemented.

“We are trying to activate the decision related to the Arab safety network, valued at $100 million monthly, in case Israel blocks our money and the US closes the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) office and halts aid,” he said.

US President Barack Obama told Abbas in a telephone conversation on Sunday that his administration opposes the Palestinian UN initiative.

“Obama did not utter any threats but there are threats from the Congress, which has a draft bill, according to which it would demand closing the PLO office in Washington and cutting off aid if the Palestinian leadership pursues any move at the UN and its related agencies,” Erakat said.

Abbas today met in Riyadh with Saudi King Abdullah, ahead of his visit to Cairo for the Arab League meeting.

Published on November 13, 2012

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