Abbas to submit Palestinian statehood bid on Sept 19

Photo: Abbas to submit Palestinian statehood bid on Sept 19 / Arab World

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he will submit an application for Palestinian statehood to the United Nations on September 19, DPA reported.

Speaking to journalists in Ramallah, Abbas said he would personally deliver the bid on his arrival in New York that day.

"We are going to the UN on September 19 to submit our application for membership in the UN," he said. "The first thing we will do once we arrive is we will go to Ban Ki-moon to give him our application."

The United States has already said it would veto such a request for Palestinian statehood if it comes before a vote in the UN Security Council.

"It should not come as a shock to anyone in this room that the US opposes a move in New York by the Palestinians to try to establish a state that can only be achieved through negotiations," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Thursday. "If something comes to a vote in the UN Security Council the US will veto."

Israel is also opposed, although the Palestine 194 campaign - a reference to becoming the 194th state recognised by the UN - claims has the support of 125 countries - more than a majority of world states.

Germany's Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, is to travel to the region on Sunday in a bid to dissuade the Palestinian side of its bid.

Abbas dismissed US objections, saying: "Whatever the pressure we are still going to the UN. Everything is ready. We have the application."

However, Abbas said he did not want to lose the current 550 million dollars received from the US in financial support.

And he warned Israel against last minute attempts to derail the bid. "If they [Israel] came before, at that time I think they have good intentions. But now, before one week [of going to the UN] I don't think it is workable."

"We will go to the UN and then return back to negotiations," he said. "But if they [Israel] want it a pretext not to go to the UN, and they came now to say 'okay, we have a package and say don't go to the UN', I think it is a game."

Earlier Thursday a letter was handed to officials at Ban's West Bank office by a Palestinian refugee who has seven sons jailed by Israel for involvement in militant attacks, while an eighth was killed by te Israeli army.

"She represents the Palestinian suffering," activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh told the German Press Agency dpa.

The Palestine 194 campaign plans a series of events ahead of the General Assembly's 66th annual session, including what it promises will be peaceful protests.

It held its first event in Gaza Sunday, with children travelling from the south to the north of the enclave, waving Palestinians flags and chanting slogans in support of statehood.

The largest demonstrations are planned for September 21, to coincide with the start of the General Assembly's general debates.

Unions, political groups and independent figures are behind the campaign.

The opening session of the General Assembly is scheduled for September 13. Abbas is due to address it on September 23.

Palestinian leaders meeting in Ramallah Thursday reiterated that they would ask for full UN membership, although some European states are pushing them to accept the status of a non-member state, like the Vatican.

Abbas is scheduled to visit Cairo on Monday for a meeting with the Arab League, to finalize the strategy of the Palestinians and their supporters.

Israel has vehemently rejected the Palestinian UN move as an attempt to bypass it and to avoid direct bilateral negotiations without preconditions. But Abed Rabbo said the step would facilitate the relaunch of "a serious peace process."

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