Abbas Urges UN: Recognize Palestinian State, Pave Way for Legal Action Against Israel

In a New York Times op-ed, Palestinian President says a UN move to authorize an independent Palestinian state come September would rectify what he calls the 'unfulfilled' 1947 UN partition plan.

United Nations member states should support the move to declare Palestinian independence in September of this year, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday, adding that such a move would also allow the Palestinians to pursue their claims against Israel.

By recognizing a Palestinian state, Abbas wrote, "the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one."

Mahmoud Abbas  - AP - 16.03.2011

"It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice," he added, saying that the Palestinians were going to the UN "to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 percent of our historic homeland because we have been negotiating with the State of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realizing a state of our own."

"We cannot wait indefinitely while Israel continues to send more settlers to the occupied West Bank and denies Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places, particularly in Jerusalem," he wrote in the New York times, adding that "neither political pressure nor promises of rewards by the United States have stopped Israel’s settlement program."

In his article, the Palestinian president, and future head of the joint Fatah-Hamas cabinet, also described his view that the Palestinians had been devoid of national independence as a result of a historical mistake, what he characterizes as a neglected leftover of the 1947 partition agreement.

"It is important to note," Abbas wrote of the Palestinian move for statehood in the UNGA this coming September, "that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states."

"In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued," Abbas added.

Linking those events with violent Nakba Day protests earlier this week, the Palestinian president indicated that "the descendants of these expelled Palestinians who were shot and wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday as they tried to symbolically exercise their right to return to their families’ homes."

"Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition," Abbas wrote in the New York Times, adding: "Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled."

Returning to the issue of stalled peace talks, the Palestinian president wrote that negotiations remained "our first option, but due to their failure we are now compelled to turn to the international community to assist us in preserving the opportunity for a peaceful and just end to the conflict."

"Palestinian national unity is a key step in this regard. Contrary to what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel asserts, and can be expected to repeat this week during his visit to Washington, the choice is not between Palestinian unity or peace with Israel; it is between a two-state solution or settlement-colonies," he added.

Concluding his article, the Palestinian president called on "all friendly, peace-loving nations to join us in realizing our national aspirations by recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and by supporting its admission to the United Nations."

"Only if the international community keeps the promise it made to us six decades ago, and ensures that a just resolution for Palestinian refugees is put into effect, can there be a future of hope and dignity for our people," he wrote.