Abbas says likely to reject Quartet's peace blueprint
Palestinian president confident Security Council ruling on statehood bid will be rendered in weeks, not months, despite expected US veto; says will not agree to international mediation proposals that 'disregard Palestinian conditions for peace talks'
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he expected the Security Council to finish debating his nation's application for full UN membership within weeks, not months.
Speaking to journalists on his plane back from the General Assembly in New York, Abbas said Security Council members had initially appeared unenthusiastic about the idea of discussing the application.
More on the PA's statehood bid:
- Palestinian FM: Quartet proposal favors Israel
- PA 'not closing door' on Quartet proposal
- Netanyahu: Palestinians want state without peace
But he said the mood appeared to change after he delivered a speech to the General Assembly on Friday, during which he pressed the Palestinian case for an independent state alongside Israel. "(Now) we are talking about weeks not months," he said.
Abbas further suggested that he was likey to reject a peacemaking blueprint put forward by international mediators, saying he would not agree to any proposal that disregarded the Palestinian conditions for a resumption of peace talks.
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The Palestinian president told reporters accompanying him that he was still studying the proposal submitted by the peacemaking Quartet, but he appeared to tip his hand by saying that "we will not deal with any initiative" that doesn't demand a halt to Israeli settlement construction or negotiations based on lines Israel held before capturing land the Palestinians claim for their state.
Decision as early as two weeks?
The Palestinians want the United Nations Security Council to decide on their bid for full membership of the world body within a fortnight, a leading official in the Fatah movement said on Saturday.
"Palestinians will wait two weeks for Security Council to consider application for membership," Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad was quoted as saying by the Palestinian Maan news agency.
Lebanon's UN ambassador said the Security Council would convene on Monday to discuss the application after Abbas presented it to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday.
"I circulated the letter (Palestinian application) to all members of the Security Council and I called for consultations in light of this letter on Monday at three in the afternoon," Ambassador Nawaf Salam told reporters.
- For full coverage of PA's statehood bid click here
Ahmad did not elaborate on what course of action the Palestinians would pursue if the Security Council rejected the request, a likely scenario considering the United States has said it will veto the move.
Apart from the US veto threat, it was also unclear if the required nine of the body's 15 members would support the bid.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki told national radio that officials were still hoping to garner the required votes.
"Consultations continue, especially with Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which have yet to define their position," Maliki was quoted as saying.
In his speech to the General Assembly on Friday after presenting the request, Abbas said: "I do not believe that anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application ... and our admission as an independent state."
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke shortly after Abbas, said peace could be achieved only through negotiations and dismissed the world body as a "theatre of the absurd."
Shortly after the two men ended their speeches, the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators – the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN – issued a call for a return to direct peace talks, which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said was a "concrete proposal".
"The United States is very pleased that the Quartet was able to issue a statement today with a concrete and detailed proposal to begin a negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians without delay or pre-condition," she said.
Abbas accepts negotiations are still necessary, but argues statehood will put Palestinians on a more equal footing. Israel sees the UN bid as an attempt to erode its own legitimacy.
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