Abbas: Palestinians Determined to Obtain Observer Status at UN

Despite continued U.S pressure and Israeli threats to withhold tax revenues, the Palestinian Authority leader says he will turn to UN this month.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday reiterated his intention to ask the United Nations General Assembly to grant the PA observer status.

Speaking at a Ramallah ceremony marking the anniversary of former PA chairman Yasser Arafat's death on Sunday, Abbas expressed his determination to make the request despite Israeli and American pressure and threats. “We will turn to them this month; within two days, the Arab League will set exactly what date this month the request will be made."

Israel and the United States oppose the move, saying Palestinian statehood must be achieved by negotiation. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an immediate resumption of peace talks and warned Abbas against making any unilateral moves in the UN General Assembly.

On Saturday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel will stop collecting tax revenues for the PA and refuse to transfer any money if Abbas continues to seek observer state membership in the UN.

"If the Palestinians continue to advance their unilateral move they should not expect bilateral cooperation. We will not collect their taxes for them and we will not transfer their tax revenues," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization, Abbas said, intends to make the request “even though they say we shouldn't. We will not reject Israel's legitimacy and don't want to reject it, but we do want to harm the legitimacy of the settlements,” he said. The PA, he warned, would not abandon its effort even if Israel and the U.S. carried out their threats and made things difficult.

PLO representatives last weekend distributed a draft of a General Assembly declaration on the status of Palestine.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaking during a ceremony marking the 8th anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death in Ramallah in Nov. 2012.Credit: AP