Abbas at UN: Palestinians ready to return to talks based on 1967 borders
Palestinian President speaks to world leaders in New York after he officially submits the Palestinian application for full UN membership.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly Friday that he is ready to return to peace talks with Israel based on 1967 borders.
Speaking moments after he submitted a formal request for the United Nations to recognize Palestinian statehood, Abbas urged Israelis to "come to peace."
"We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking," Abbas said in a speech setting out his case to the UN General Assembly, which greeted him with a standing ovation.
"Our people will continue their popular, peaceful resistance," Abbas declared. "This (Israeli settlement) policy will destroy the chances of achieving a two-state solution and ... threatens to undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence."
It was the first time Abbas has spoken so starkly of the prospect of the PA's demise, highlighting the predicament faced by a body set up as a state-in-waiting but now seen by its critics as a big municipality, managing the civilian affairs of the main Palestinian cities under Israeli occupation.
Israel has rejected the Palestinian bid, saying that peace can only be achieved through negotiations, not a unilateral declaration of statehood.
U.S. President Barack Obama, echoed these sentiments in a meeting with Abbas in a meeting on Wednesday, saying that UN action would not achieve a Palestinian state and the United States would veto any Security Council move to recognize Palestinian statehood, the White House said.
"We would have to oppose any action at the UN Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing," Ben Rhodes, the White House national security council spokesman, told reporters after Obama met Abbas in New York.
PLO diplomatic envoy to the U.S. Maen Rashid Erekat told Haaretz that the U.S. President "reiterated the commitment of the U.S. to the establishment of the Palestinian state, as part of the two-state solution, and stressed the position of the US that the UN is not the right venue to reach this goal."
"President Abbas explained the Palestinian position - basically it's what we've done in the past few months, each side explained his position," he added.
Abbas was scheduled to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon prior to his UN address to hand over an application for UN membership.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Obama in a brief statement at the UN on Thursday, for “standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct negotiations”.
The Israeli prime minister stressed that both sides agree that this is the only way to achieve peace. “We both agree that Palestinians and the Israelis should sit down together and negotiate an agreement of mutual recognition and security. I think this is the only way to get to a stable and durable peace,” he said.
Netanyahu implored other leaders to adopt a similar stance and reject the Palestinian bid for recognition.