Netanyahu, Abbas to make rival UN pitches

2012-09-27 11:01

New York - The leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority both address the United Nations on Thursday, one seeking recognition for his state, the other warning of a dire threat to his.

One year after Mahmud Abbas made his historic appeal to the UN General Assembly for Palestinian statehood, he returned with the more modest goal of seeing his territory given a kind of elevated non-member observer status.

His Israeli sparring partner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposes even that goal while direct talks are suspended, but he came to New York with a more pressing concern - Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"I will reiterate that the most dangerous country in the world must not be allowed to arm itself with the most dangerous weapon in the world," Netanyahu said on Sunday, as he prepared for the key diplomatic voyage.

Israel has made it clear that it would launch pre-emptive military action rather than accept that Iran - whose leaders regularly issue bloodcurdling threats against the Jewish state - arm itself with the atomic bomb.

World powers take the threat seriously, and fear any new conflict would further destabilise the already volatile Middle East and already weak global economy, and many spoke out this week in favour of a diplomatic solution.

Case for tougher sanctions

For its part Iran - in the form of its mercurial president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - came to New York to dismiss the threat posed by "uncultured Zionists" and insist its uranium enrichment has only peaceful ends.

He defiantly accused the Western powers and Israel, currently the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, albeit an undeclared one -- of using "nuclear intimidation" to browbeat his nation.

But Israel will hope for support from the United States at least, after President Barack Obama told the General Assembly that Americans "will do what we must" to halt the Iranian weapons programme.

Netanyahu will never win UN approval for a unilateral strike but will press the case for tougher international sanctions. No meeting with Obama has been scheduled, but he has an appointment with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Abbas, meanwhile, plans to launch a campaign to see Palestine recognised as a non-state member within the border that existed before the 1967 Six Day War - when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see this as the basis for border negotiations with Israel on a permanent solution to their conflict, but Israel and its US ally oppose recognition before the terms of the final deal are agreed.

Access to agencies

"We want Palestine back on the map, on the 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital, carried by 150 to 170 nations," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told journalists last week.

The Palestinian leadership was formerly opposed to non-state membership, seeing this as a distraction and possible dead end, but their political clout has only diminished in the year since their initial bid.

Enhanced observer status would at least give them access to more agencies, such as the World Health Organisation or International Criminal Court.

If it did come to a vote, the Palestinians would probably win a majority of UN members, but they have reportedly promised Washington not to push the issue too hard until after the 6 November US presidential election.

A State Department official confirmed Clinton had met Abbas late on Wednesday in a New York hotel on the eve of his speech and that the question of a new UN observer status had come up.

"We have had conversations with the president on this topic," the official said. "We have made very clear that our goal is to resume direct talks and that the idea of going to the UN is not the road that takes us there."

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-27 17:17

    Israel was created in 1948 from 52% of the land formerly occupied by the Jewish and Palestinian people, and Palestine 43%. Most of the Israeli territory was the Negev Desert. Jerusalem fell into neither territory. Palestinians with their unelected, self-serving neighbors declared war on Israel the very next day. In the 1960's they even invaded Israel twice. Full military invasions. The result: Israel survived and pushed them back, gaining territory in the process. This is the origin of what some wrongly call "occupied territories". There have been almost daily attacks by Palestinians, incited by their self-serving unelected backers. Palestinians even teach their children at Kindergarten to attack Israel, rather than be peaceful. Children in Kindergarten. Imagine that. How low can humans go. From day one, and even today it's wage war on Israel. Israel defends herself. Yes sometimes going too far, which is unacceptable, but self-defense nonetheless. All that needs to happen is for Palestinians to choose peace side by side with Israel. This is more likely going forward now because the unelected dictators are being removed from power by their people, one by one. They will no longer use the Palestinians for their own internal political ploys. Palestinians will be free, Israel safe and the world a better place.

      shehnaaz.motara - 2012-09-28 08:22

      Let me help you with a few facts you may have forgotten, Fred. Israel declared itself a state in 1948, following extensive ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian population (including, by the way, most Palestinian Jews who had been there for centuries). Benny Morris writes lovingly about the forced expulsion of the natives. Surrounding nations declared war on Israel after this land-grab. In the 1960's, Israel deliberately provoked a war to gain territory (see Israeli official documents from this period), and ignoring international law to the contrary, declared that it now owned the territory. This is the origin of the phrase "occupied territories" (see the Geneva Conventions). Between 2005-2006 alone, Israel launched 15000 shells into Gaza. Between 2005 and 2012, Palestinians launched 9000 rockets into Israel (far, far less than "almost daily attacks", and timelines of attacks show that Palestinian rockets almost always come AFTER Israeli ordnance is fired first). Israelis teach their children to hate Arabs at an early age: see the "Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education" by Nurit Peled-Elhanan, and the race riots in Israel this year. Israel is an aggressive bully, practicing Apartheid (see the findings of the Russell Tribunal). And much like our Apartheid figures, they also blamed the native population for not wanting "peace". Glad I could clear that up for you.

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