Palestine: UN bid last-ditch peace effort

2012-11-28 22:33
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas  (File, AP)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Ramallah - A bid for UN recognition of a state of Palestine is a last-ditch attempt to rescue troubled Mideast peace efforts, a Palestinian spokesperson said on Wednesday, rejecting Israel's charge that it is an attempt to bypass negotiations.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, urged the US to drop its opposition to the bid, dismissing Washington's stance as "pathetic" and harmful to American interests in the region.

The Palestinians have come under intense pressure from the US, Britain and others to modify the bid but "have not succumbed", she said.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to ask the UN General Assembly to recognise Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but still controls most access.

The Palestinians expect about two-thirds of the General Assembly's 193 members will accept Palestine as a non-member observer state. The US, Israel, Canada and a few others are opposed.

The vote will not change the situation on the ground, yet the Palestinians still say it is significant.

Abbas has said UN recognition is not meant to replace negotiations with Israel, but to improve Palestinian leverage and secure the pre-1967 war frontiers as the baseline for future border talks - an idea Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected.

This does not mean the UN vote will pave the way for a quick resumption of talks, which broke down four years ago.

Settlements

Abbas has said he will not negotiate as long as Israel keeps expanding settlements on war-won land. Half a million Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, blurring the 1967 lines.

Beyond a 10-month partial halt in 2009 that failed to restart sustained peace talks, Netanyahu has refused to freeze construction in settlements, and UN recognition of "Palestine" will not soften Abbas' refusal to negotiate without a freeze, his aides say.

Referring to Israeli settlement building, Ashrawi said on Wednesday that the UN bid "is a last-ditch effort, because we believe the two-state solution [a Palestinian state alongside Israel] is in jeopardy as a result of these actions."

She said if the US "can't vote yes, at least don't vote no, because that would be seen as being really pathetic by the rest of the world".

Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev dismissed the UN quest as futile, saying only negotiations with Israel can bring about a Palestinian state.

"They can get pieces of paper from the UN, but they are not going to move peace forward, they are not going to make a Palestinian statehood more real," he said.

"They boycott Israel. They refuse to talk to us. Who do they plan to make peace with?" he said.

Surveys indicate most Palestinians have become disillusioned with prospects of setting up a state through negotiations. Two decades of talks have failed to produce results, marred by intransigence and repeated bouts of violence.

The vote comes at an important time domestically for Abbas, who has watched his political rival, the Islamic militant Hamas, gain popularity, particularly after holding its own during an Israeli offensive on Hamas-ruled Gaza earlier this month, aimed at stopping almost daily rocket barrages from Gaza at southern Israel.

Hamas, which seized control of Gaza from Abbas in 2007, argues that negotiations with Israel are a waste of time, but Hamas leaders have come out in support of the UN bid in recent days.

During Israel's Gaza offensive, Abbas was largely sidelined at his compound in the West Bank, underscoring international concerns that the deadlock in peace efforts is increasingly weakening him and other Palestinian pragmatists.

Abbas aides have said they expect key European countries to support the UN bid at the last minute in an attempt to strengthen Abbas.

On Tuesday, France announced its support, followed on Wednesday by similar pledges from Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland. Germany said it would not support the initiative.

Wait and see

Israel appeared to be backing away from plans to immediately punish the Palestinians for going to the UN. Instead, an Israeli government official said Israel would wait to see whether the Palestinians would use the world body's expected approval to hurt Israel.

The Palestinians plan to seek membership or access to a number of international and UN agencies, including the International Criminal Court, once their statehood bid is approved.

Israel would respond "forcefully" if the Palestinians try to pursue war crimes charges against Israel at the ICC, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss policy considerations. If the Palestinians use their upgraded international status "as a tool to confront Israel in the international arena, there will be a response".

Until then, he said, Israel will be bound by its obligations to the Palestinians under existing peace agreements, but won't necessarily go beyond them.

Earlier there was talk of Israel's retaliating by cancelling the partial peace accords.

- SAPA

Read more on:    un  |  palestine  |  israel  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
36 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Sir Lowry's Pass - 17:57 PM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 17:56 PM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Riebeeck Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Y

The Samsung Y (Young) is tiny but powerful with Android...

From R1499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.