WASHINGTON - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas
warned Friday that he may seek non-member status for a Palestinian state at the United Nations if peace talks with Israel
do not resume.
At a Paris news conference with French President Francois Hollande, Abbas made good on months of speculation that the Palestinians might seek to circumvent pledges by the United States, Israel's stalwart ally, to block any Palestinian bid for membership in the Security Council – and seek alternatives in the UN General Assembly.
The Security Council blocked the Palestinians' bid to become a full member last September after they failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council's 15 members.
The PA currently holds an observer status at the UN, and as such it has right to send a non-voting envoy to the global body.
An upgrade by the General Assembly to "non-member" would give Palestine recognition as a "state" – a move that could open the way for Palestinians to take legal action against Israelis through the International Criminal Court.
"We went to the Security Council. We did not obtain the vote necessary," Abbas said. "If we don't return to the (peace) negotiations, we'll of course go to the General Assembly to obtain the status of non-member state, as is the case for the Vatican or Switzerland."
"Of course, we are going to encounter many obstacles," he said. Abbas, however, did not specify when the Palestinians might take their bid to the General Assembly.
He qualified the statements by stipulating that he might agree to renew negotiations if Israel agrees to free Palestinian prisoners and allow the PA to import weapons for police use.
The current observer, Riyad Mansour, told reporters this week that the Palestinian leaders are still exploring all possibilities at the UN, including going to the General Assembly to raise its status from a UN observer to a UN observer state.
The upgrade would allow the PA to join the UN's international organizations, such as the Human Rights Council, without becoming a full, voting member of the global body.
Maen Areikat, the chief Palestinian representative in Washington, said in an opinion piece that was published by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the time is ripe for the Palestinians to take control of their borders and establish a state.
He asserted that it is within Israel's "vital interest" to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.
"Yes, 45 years later, Israel may have proven that it is the strongest army in the region, but is it safer? Are its prospects for the future more promising? It does not seem so," he wrote, referring to the period that has passed since the Six Day War.
"Israel should see that its prosperity and its security lay not in more defense spending, more wars, more walls or more settlements. Instead it lays in a strong, sovereign and vibrant Palestine living next to it."
AP contributed to the report