Abbas - Reuters - Sept. 16, 2011
Mahmoud Abbas speaks in Ramallah, September 16, 2011. Photo by Reuters
Text size

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that the Palestinians plan to approach the United Nations Security Council for full recognition, clarifying that they are seeking to delegitimize the occupation, not Israel, by taking the UN route for Palestinian statehood.

He stressed that Israel is a legitimate state, but that by continuing to build in the settlements and rejecting the internationally recognized borders of a future Palestinian state, they are engaging in illegitimate activity.

Abbas gave his address in Ramallah a week before the United Nations is set to vote on Palestinian statehood, which is due to take place in the UN General Assembly on September 23.

"What I will take to the UN will be the suffering and concerns of our people that have been taking place over 63 years living under the occupation," Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians, like every nation, deserve independence, adding that the Palestinians want a state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas said that the PLO plans to continue to be the sole representative of the Palestinian people, not only at the diplomatic level but also through the implementation of the necessary steps needed to bring about a Palestinian state.

Later in his speech, however, the Palestinian president touched upon the Cairo-brokered unity deal between the moderate West Bank – based Fatah and the more militant Gaza-based Hamas, saying that “there is nothing better than national unity between the West Bank and Gaza, and we will do everything we can to maintain this unity.”

Abbas said that collaboration between the West Bank and Gaza is a national duty, and they will continue to take steps to maintain this, “even if we differ on some issues.”

He touched upon the latest World Bank report in which it lauded the PA’s institution building in the West Bank, adding that this along with the Middle East Quartet and U.S. President Barack Obama’s commitment to obtaining headway on the establishment of a Palestinian state in September were a strong foundation for the upcoming bid for recognition.

He added that the completion of its institution-building efforts was another impetus to approach the UN in September.

The Palestinian president clarified that the PA’s decision to approach the UN was not a unilateral declaration but rather a step in the right direction, with further talks to ensue as aprerequisite for final-status statehood.

The prime minister’s office issued a statement following Abbas’ speech, saying that “peace cannot be achieved through a unilateral declaration to the United Nations, and certainly not by unifying with the terror organization Hamas.”

The statement said that peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel, and the Palestinian Authority has consistently avoided talks with Israel.

It concluded saying “when the Palestinian Authority will abandon its futile measures, firstly its unilateral decision to approach the UN, it will find Israel as a partner for negotiations and peace.”