Abbas says ready for peace talks if U.N. recognition bid succeeds

RAMALLAH, West Bank Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:46pm EDT

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday he would be ready for negotiations with Israel "straightaway" if the U.N. recognized Palestine as a non-member state.

His comments appeared to be another attempt to assure the United States that the Palestinian campaign for status change at the U.N. is not an attempt to circumvent bilateral talks with Israel deadlocked since 2010 over settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"We have resolved to go to the U.N. to save the two-state solution and to achieve the rights of our people as an observer state," Abbas told reporters during a visit by the Bulgarian president to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"We're ready to go back to negotiations straightaway. Going to the U.N. is not a substitute for negotiations. We are in need of negotiations to solve the final status of issues that face us both," he said.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month, Abbas sought so-called "non-member state" status in the world body, a grade below the full recognition that eluded the Palestinians at the U.N. Security Council last year, due to insufficient backing.

U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice has said the Palestinian bid "would only jeopardize the peace process". Israel also opposes a change in the Palestinians's status.

In a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama last week, Abbas said the Palestinian move at the U.N. was aimed at securing "international recognition that would facilitate negotiations".

OBSERVER STATE

The Palestinians' current U.N. status is an "observer entity". If Abbas wins, that would change to "observer state", granting Palestinians access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court, where they could file complaints against Israel.

The president of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, has said the issue will likely be debated in mid-November, after the U.S. presidential election.

The Palestinians need a simple majority for the upgrade, but predict that between 150 and 170 nations will vote in favor.

Peace talks were briefly renewed in 2010 but collapsed after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month partial settlement construction freeze in the occupied West Bank, land Palestinians seek for a future state.

At the time, Abbas made a Palestinian return to negotiations conditional on halting settlement activity in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war.

That demand was absent from his latest remarks on reviving the U.S.-backed negotiations. Netanyahu has urged Abbas to resume talks unconditionally.

In response to the U.N. bid, Israeli officials have threatened financial sanctions against Abbas's Palestinian Authority, which is dependent on Israeli-transferred customs duties and Western aid.

Lagging donor funding, partly as a result of Israeli and Western financial punishments for the more ambitious status change Abbas sought in 2011, has emptied Palestinian government coffers and stirred street protests.

Local elections in the West Bank this week brought gains to dissidents within Abbas's ruling Fatah party. And a visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday by Qatar's ruler also dealt a blow to the Palestinian Authority, which lost control of the enclave to the Islamist group in 2007.

(Additional reporting by Jihan Abdalla, Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

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Comments (2)
paintcan wrote:
Everything seems to jeopardize the Israeli idea of the peace process because they invariably want the upper hand. Territorial aggrandizement requires warfare and peace will end that.

The only peace terms will be those they want, when they want them, and where they want them. And it can’t cost them much. If the Palestinians are militant and armed it is because the situation makes them the weaker side and that’s the stand of the frustrated.

The Israeli argument is always that they are the minority in the region and force of arms is justified against a superior foe. The Palestinians were using the same argument against the Israelis. Remember the death toll exacted by the Israeli’s in the Gaza conflict was at a factor of 100 Palestinian deaths to one Israeli and the Israeli government could have easily avoided civilian casualties by advising those people to move away temporarily. Why didn’t they? Did the occupants want to avoid a hotel bill or did the government not want to provide them with temporary accommodation? The Palestinian civilians were trapped within that compound and could not escape. That was one of the more obscene crimes against humanity I’ve heard about from a supposedly civilized and western country. It was worse than Bosnia because the Bosnians could flee.

The Israeli’s are claiming a right to occupy the West Bank as the spoils of war. That is illegal under laws governing the UN that Israel agreed to when it became a member state. The settlements were built on land under their own land use control without any other input from the Palestinians expect the sale of some of the land. It is easy to suggest that some of those sales were coerced by the prevailing conditions of life in the West Bank. The new wall was not built on land sold to them by the owners and any destruction of property the Israelis undertake in Gaza or the West Bank, in the interests of its own security, is also not compensated. The Israeli’s never move their own people, always the Palestinians, unless it is to encourage their own people to occupy former Palestinian territory to create “facts on the ground”.

Israel created itself through force of arms and is a very militant state with compulsory conscription. The Palestinians can only use volunteers and very under-funded military forces to defend the interest of it’s own people who have very tenuous legal rights under Israeli occupation. The Israeli’s fear a better-managed Palestinian state because they will not be able to carry on with extra territorial expansion in the only area they can expand. Can anyone reasonably suggest any other motive? No other country in Europe and certainly not the US or Canada, is successfully able to defend itself in the name of preserving itself as an ethnic or religious enclave. They can’t do that as members of the UN.

There is no reason at all to accept true faith on the part of Israeli negotiators and the Palestinians know it. The Palestinians are the people most tangibly pressed by the situation and the Israelis have to show willingness to withdraw and to accept the Palestinians existence as a self governing entity or else redefine itself and allow all the inhabitants to become a single state.

The western powers show no true faith either in that they seem to recognize the right to self-defense of their own interests but not those regimes they label their enemies. That’s all I’ve heard for 50 years from the bigger powers. That’s what tended to make them the big powers.

The world does seem to reduce, in essence, to the wolves and the sheep. But one never expects true faith or honesty in negotiations with a wolf. But the wolves do try hard to advertise themselves as sheep.

If anyone thinks that the UN is the problem think what will happen if it ceases to exist? The State of Israel was largely a UN invention.

Oct 24, 2012 12:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
rgbviews wrote:
It’s about time Israel faces up to international law. It has ignored international law and UN resolutions for decades.

Will Israel become a law abiding world citizen or continue to operate outside the law?

Will the US encourage Israel to conform to international legal standards or will it remain a criminal accomplice?

Oct 31, 2012 10:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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