Abbas: UN Debate on Palestinian Statehood Bid Will Take Weeks, Not Months

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says UN Security Council members appeared more enthusiastic about statehood bid following his speech to General Assembly.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he expected the Security Council to finish debating his nation's application for full United Nations membership within weeks, not months.

Speaking to journalists on his plane back from the General Assembly in New York, where he presented the request, Abbas said Security Council members had initially appeared unenthusiastic about the idea of discussing the application.

Mahmoud Abbas AP Sept. 23, 2010

But he said the mood appeared to change after he delivered a speech to the General Assembly on Friday, during which he pressed the Palestinian case for an independent state alongside Israel.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, has said it will block the move. Both governments say direct peace talks are the correct way for Palestinians to pursue peace. The U.S. holds veto power in the 15-member Security Council.

"We are talking about weeks not months," Abbas said.

Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki rejected the Middle East Quartet's proposal to renew peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking to a Palestinian radio station, al-Malki said that the Quartet's proposal does not call for a settlement freeze and an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, and therefore isn't sufficient.

In a statement on Friday, the Quartet - the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia -- said it wanted to see comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and substantial progress within six months.