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Mahmoud Abbas Photo: AP
Mahmoud Abbas Photo: AP
 
 

Israel tries to downplay Palestinians' UN bid

Jerusalem has accepted it won't be able to stop General Assembly from upgrading PA's status. "There will be fireworks in Ramallah, but the settlements will stay in place,' official says

Itamar Eichner
Latest Update: 11.28.12, 13:03 / Israel News

Israel has accepted it cannot stop the Palestinians from going forward with their UN status upgrade bid on Thursday. The General Assembly is set to approve Mahmoud Abbas' bid to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's status to from observer to non-member state.

 

"I wouldn't overstate the importance of the UN vote," a senior Israeli official said. "True, we’re going to see fireworks in Ramallah but the settlements will remain exactly where they are and the IDF will continue to operate in the same areas."

 

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The forum of top nine ministers has yet to decide what steps to take in response but it appears Israel will keep a low profile so as not to turn the focus away from the Palestinian move which clearly violates the Oslo Accords.

 

Meanwhile, one by one European nations on Wednesday announced their support for the Palestinian bid.

 

Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway all issued statements announcing they will vote in favor of the status upgrade. Germany and the Czech Republic will likely not endorse the bid.

 

“I am happy to announce that Denmark will vote in favor … (in) the vote on Thursday,” Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal said in a statement.

 

“For some time it has been clear that the Palestinians have wanted an upgrade of their status at the United Nations to that of a non-member observer state. After several weeks of talks, a resolution was finally presented yesterday,” Soevndal said.

 

On Tuesday, France officially announced it would be endorsing the Palestinian bid. It is estimated that most Asian and African nations, with the exception of Malawi, Togo and Cameroon, will also vote in favor of the status upgrade.

 

Britain is set to abstain as will Italy, Australia and Germany. Israeli officials estimate that other than Israel itself, the US, Canada, Micronesia and Guatemala will vote against the bid.

 

Having realized the battle has been lost, Israeli officials are trying to downplay the move. "We won't be passive and sit idly by," a state official said, "but there's no need to issue statements. We'll respond when the time is right."

 

Though Israel is accusing the Palestinians of grossly violating the Oslo Accords it has announced it will continue to honor them herself.

 

However, it has been revealed that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has recommended deducting the NIS 750 million owed by the PA to the Israel Electric Corp. from the tax money Israel transfers to the Palestinians every month, in accordance with 1994 Paris Agreement.

 

The state official also dismissed Palestinians threats to try Israeli statesmen and officers over settlement construction in the International Criminal Court. "We need not fear this," he said.

 

'Abbas fights for personal survival'

Meanwhile, Israel is stepping up its criticism of Abbas. A senior official said Tuesday that the Palestinian president is no longer relevant and that his UN bid is meant to guarantee his personal political survival.

 

Abbas is a corrupt leader, he said, who has postponed the West Bank elections for more than two years as he knows he will lose to Hamas.

 

Sources in Ramallah, on their part, said that Abbas is under heavy pressure by the US and some European nations to withdraw his bid. "But he has no choice, had he withdrawn his bid he would not have been able to return to Ramallah and keep his seat."

 

The Palestinian leader is heading to New York with full backing from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

 

Former Palestinian Minister for Political Detainees' Affairs, Ashraf Al Ajarmy said that while Abbas promised the US he would not appeal the International Criminal Court against Israel, "this doesn't mean we will not do so in the future in case the political process continues to stagnate and building in the settlements continues."

 

The IDF's Central Command is gearing for possible riots in the West Bank. IDF forces equipped with crowd dispersal means will be deployed in hot spots in the West Bank on Thursday.

 

Defense officials estimated that Palestinians will hold rallies in cities across the West Bank but fear the protesters will reach Israeli areas.

 

Itamar Eichner is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent

 

Roni Shaked, Yoav Zitun and AFP contributed to this report

 

 

 

First Published: 11.28.12, 10:44

 

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