Palestinian leaders called for a "day of rage" Saturday in the streets of West Bank cities after the US vetoed a UN condemnation of Israeli settlements Friday.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the Palestinians would take their resolution to the UN General Assembly.
"Our decision today is to go to the General Assembly of the United Nations to adopt a resolution condemning settlements and asserting their illegality before returning to the Security Council to present a proposed condemnation of settlements," he told AFP.
"The American veto will not prevent us from appealing to international institutions and will not stop our desire for freedom and independence," he said.
"There is no American mediator in the peace process and that is why we have no choice but to turn to the General Assembly to call for a halt in settlement construction."
Abed Rabbo said that the Palestinians will also discuss the option of filing a request with the General Assembly for a discussion on the recognition of a Palestinian state on 1967 bordera with east Jerusalem as a capital.
Many South American countries have recognized a future Palestinian state over the past few months. Abed Rabbo claimed there was no Israeli partner for a peace process even prior to the US veto.
Tawfik Tirawi, a member of the Fatah central committee, said the veto had revealed the US' true face and that it reflects the lie behind the country's call for freedom and democracy in the Arab world.
"We will not capitulate to the American blackmail imposed on us," Tirawi said, calling for protesters to hit the streets on Friday of next week.
He added that the Palestinian Authority was prepared to suffer the financial consequences of a crisis in relations with the US, from which it receives economic aid.
Tirawi said the Palestinians would not sacrifice their values and that direct negotiations with Israel would not proceed as long as the state continued to build in settlements. "We are considering all of our options," he said.
More moderate Fatah officials also criticized the US. Former chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the veto was unjustified.
"It appears the US does not see the dramatic changes going on in the region, which are bringing freedom and democracy," he said, adding that the Palestinians would "make use of our right to appeal to international institutions, because the settlements are illegal".
After the decision was made public Friday night, senior PLO member Yasser Abed Rabbo said the Palestinians would "reconsider peace negotiations", adding that the US decision was "unbalanced" and hurt the peace process.
On Saturday morning Hamas held a press conference in Gaza aimed at criticizing the US as well. "The American veto is an oppressive decision which disgraces the rights of the Palestinian people and reveals the truth about US support for all of the crimes the Zionist enemy commits in its service," said spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
He called on the Palestinian Authority to stop negotiating with Israel and instead focus on strengthening languishing ties between Palestinian factions.
Meanwhile, Israel commended the US' decision. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that "the continuing attempts by the Palestinians to circumvent direct negotiations and impose a solution have been doomed to failure".
"If the Palestinians are serious about solving the conflict they should halt the political attacks against Israel and renew direct negotiations immediately without excuses," he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the veto by saying that "Israel has remained committed to regional peace with all of its neighbors, including the Palestinians".
"We aspire to a solution that will combine legitimate Palestinian aims with Israel's need for security and recognition. The US decision clarifies that the only way to peace is through negotiations," a statement from Netanyahu's office said.
Yair Altman contributed to this report
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