Abbas to Ask Security Council to End Occupation in Three Years

Palestinian president says he will submit resolution after speech to UN General Assembly on Friday - and that if U.S. vetoes it, he'll begin process of taking Israel to The Hague.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas acknowledges the audience after delivering a speech at Cooper Union, Sept. 22, 2014.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas acknowledges the audience after delivering a speech at Cooper Union, Sept. 22, 2014.Credit: AP

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he will submit a resolution to the UN Security Council on Friday seeking a three-year timetable for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank.

Abbas told reporters the resolution will be handed in immediately after he speaks at the UN General Assembly.

Abbas told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of his proposal on Tuesday, stressing that he was committed to going through with it because 20 years of negotiating with Israel had not brought the Palestinians independence. There is little chance, though, the resolution would survive a Security Council vote. The United States will almost certainly veto such a measure, having said the only resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations between the two sides.

However, Palestinian officials in Ramallah say they are hoping that a meeting planned for Thursday between their key backer, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, and U.S. President Barack Obama will advance their cause.

Abbas' other option

A day earlier, Abbas said a UN rejection of the resolution would prompt him to seek membership in international institutions and agencies. Aides said that would include the International Criminal Court, opening the door to war crimes charges against Israel for its military actions in Gaza and Jewish settlement construction on West Bank land the Palestinians want for a future state.

Also Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told The Associated Press after a donor meeting lead by Norway that he asked for urgent aid amounting to $3.8 billion for reconstruction of Gaza after the summer war with Israel. He said Saudi Arabia had pledged $500 million and other nations indicated they would join in.

The recent Gaza war has weakened Abbas domestically, with Hamas enjoying a surge of popularity among Palestinians for fighting Israel. He is under pressure at home to come up with a new political strategy after his repeated but failed attempts to establish a Palestinian state through U.S.-mediated negotiations with Israel.

Abbas adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh has said the Palestinian leader would present a new strategy in his UN speech. In recent weeks, Abbas and his aides have hinted at the outlines.

Seeking binding resolution with deadline

Under the plan, Abbas would ask the UN Security Council to issue a binding resolution, with a specific date for ending Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Captured by Israel in 1967, the territories were recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2012 as making up a state of Palestine.

The United States has urged Abbas not to turn to the Security Council, but has not offered an alternative, said a Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Abbas will use meetings on the sidelines of the General Assembly to gauge international support for his plan, said the official.

"This week I will propose to the United Nations a new timetable for peace talks. The key is to agree on a map to delineate the borders of each country," Abbas said.

He said he is frustrated with the Israeli government, accusing it of expanding settlements on Palestinian land rather that making peace.

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