Abbas to go ahead with statehood bid
United Nations Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he still intends to submit an application for statehood to the United Nations Security Council, according to U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky, despite a tide of controversy that has accompanied the measure.
The Palestinian leader, who is expected to submit the bid formally Friday, spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting Monday at the United Nations in New York.
It was part of what is expected to be a series of high-level meetings surrounding the hot topic of Palestinian statehood and the likely ripple effects of the formal application.
The United States has promised to veto the application should it reach the Security Council. Abbas, however, has appeared undeterred.
In a speech Friday in Ramallah, West Bank, the Palestinian leader said, "We are going to the United Nations to attain full membership."
He has said the Palestinian territories should be represented by their "natural borders," pointing to Israel's 1967 boundaries, while calling disputed territories inhabited by Israeli settlers "illegal."
But Israel has called the move provocative, asking for continued peace talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to speak Friday at the United Nations, said the measure could complicate the peace process and further destabilize the region.
The Palestinian territories currently have "observer" status, meaning delegates can speak in the General Assembly but not vote.
A "yes" vote in the General Assembly -- where only a majority vote would be needed -- could afford Palestinians with the status of "permanent observer," similar to the position the Vatican holds.
A vote in its favor would be all but assured, also meaning Palestinians could pursue legal actions against Israel.
But Hamas, the Palestinian organization that controls Gaza, has warned Abbas not to take that step, saying it would show a willingness to acknowledge and negotiate with Israel, which would "deprive the Palestinian people from their right to come back to their homeland."
"We are warning him not to go," senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said. "This is going to make more division inside the Palestinian people."The five permanent members of the Security Council are the United States, China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom.
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