Abbas prepares UN bid, Israel promises cutoff

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Palestinians burn pictures of PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the northern Gaza Strip on 3 November 2012 after the western-backed leader forfeited his right to return to his hometown of Safad. (Photo: AFP - Mahmud Hams)

Published Sunday, November 11, 2012

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he will submit a bid for non-state membership to the United Nations later this month in spite of Israel’s threat to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority.

"We're going to the United Nations in November 2012, not 2013, or 2014," the Western-backed Abbas said at an event Sunday commemorating the eighth anniversary of the death of the former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

Israel’s finance minister Yuval Steinitz on Saturday said it will stop collecting tax revenues for the Palestinian Authority and not hand over any money unless Abbas drops the UN membership bid.

Israel and the United States are firmly opposed to Palestinians upgrading its status as a state from its current status as an “entity.”

Being registered at the UN as an ‘observer state’ would mean the Palestinians could join bodies such as the International Criminal Court and file complaints against Israel for its continued occupation and illegal settlement expansions along with other crimes.

All ‘member state’ rights, except for voting on resolutions, would be accorded to Palestine, with a majority vote in favor of the UN bid at the General Assembly. Palestinians expect an easy majority of the 193 member states to support the change in status.

Upgrading the Palestinian UN status from ‘entity’ to ‘observer state’ does not go through the Security Council and cannot be vetoed.

The United States, one of five UN veto powers, had frustrated Palestinian attempts at full statehood at the UN Security Council (SC) last year.

Abbas has also been attacked by Hamas and other Palestinian opponents over the UN bid which they see as a publicity stunt to draw domestic support in the face of widespread opposition.

The PA has faced mass anti-government protests throughout the year.

Abbas came under fire earlier this month for comments he made on Israeli TV forgoing his right of return.

Palestinians of all factions took to the streets in Gaza and the West Bank to demand he step down, with some burning his picture.

(Al-Akhbar, Reuters)

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