Global perspective Human stories

Palestine to seek UN non-Member State status, Abbas tells General Assembly debate

President Mahmoud Abbas of the  Palestinian Authority addresses General Assembly.
UN Photo/J Carrier
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority addresses General Assembly.

Palestine to seek UN non-Member State status, Abbas tells General Assembly debate

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, whose bid for full United Nations membership failed last year, announced today from the podium of the General Assembly that he would seek non-Member State status this year, accusing Israel of apparently rejecting the internationally endorsed two-state solution.

“In our endeavour, we do not seek to delegitimize an existing State, that is Israel, but rather to assert the State that must be realized, that is Palestine,” he told world leaders on the third day of the Assembly’s annual General Debate at UN Headquarters in New York, calling on the Security Council to urgently adopt a “binding reference” for achieving the two-state solution.

“Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community: there is still a chance – maybe the last – to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace,” he said, reciting a long list of actions, including Israeli settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory.

Such actions negated the possibility of the internationally-endorsed two-state solution which envisages Palestine and Israeli living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, President Abbas stressed.

“Despite our feelings of disappointment and loss of hope, we continue to sincerely extend our hands to the Israeli people to make peace,” he said. “We realize that ultimately the two peoples must live and coexist, each in their respective State, in the Holy Land. Further, we realize that progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and Israel.”

There can only be one understanding of Israel's actions, the Palestinian leader said, adding: “That one understanding leads to one conclusion: that the Israeli Government rejects the two-State solution.” Israel has said it is prepared to discuss all matters with the Palestinians without pre-conditions.

Among the actions the Palestinian leader cited were 535 attacks perpetrated by “terrorist militias” of settlers, which he called a by-product of the “racist climate fuelled by a culture of incitement in the Israeli curriculum and extremist declarations, which are rife with hatred and are rooted in a series of discriminatory laws created and enacted over the years against the Palestinian people.”

He added that Israel has carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem by demolishing Palestinian homes, preventing construction and revoking residency rights and has continued to build and expand settlements throughout the West Bank while suffocating Gaza with a blockade and attacks.

Moreover, he noted, Israel’s continued occupation of East Jerusalem, its de facto annexation of large areas of the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, its refusal to engage in any serious discussion on Palestinian refugees, and its other actions on the ground would leave only small Palestinian enclaves surrounded by large Israeli settlement blocs, walls, checkpoints and vast security zones and roads devoted to the settlers.

The core components of a just solution to the conflict entail the establishment of an independent Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over all the territory occupied by Israel since 1967, and a just solution to the Palestine refugee issue, President Abbas said.

“The international community, embodied in the United Nations, is required now more than ever to uphold its responsibilities,” he stated. “The Security Council is called upon to urgently adopt a resolution comprising the basis and foundations for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that would serve as a binding reference and guide for all if the vision of two-States, Israel and Palestine, is to survive and if peace is to prevail in the land of peace.”

As to the new status he is seeking, President Abbas said the Palestinians had already begun intensive consultations with various regional organizations and Member States for the General Assembly to adopt a resolution considering the State of Palestine as a non-Member State during this session.

“We are confident that the vast majority of the countries of the world support our endeavour aimed at salvaging the chances for a just peace,” he added.

The Palestinian Authority President is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.