Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday asserted that the Palestinian bid for UN recognition will only delay the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu, who made the remarks during a visit to the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, said that "while Israel's hand is always extended in peace, no Palestinian state can be established without a declared resolution of the conflict and viable security arrangements that will protect the State of Israel and its citizens."
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The UN General Assembly is set to implicitly recognize a sovereign state of Palestine on Thursday despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government.
The prime minister noted that the Palestinians' proposed General Assembly resolution makes no mention of the Israeli stipulations.
"We want peace but peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations without preconditions and without unilateral UN resolutions that don't take into consideration Israel's existence and security needs," he said.
"Peace will be achieved through agreements made between Jerusalem and Ramallah," he added."
Acknowledging the inevitable result of the vote, Netanyahu said: "Don't be impressed by the applause at the UN. I remember the applause that the Israeli government received from the international community when it decided to unilaterally disengage from Gaza. We got applause and were attacked by rockets."
Germany to abstain
Germany informed Israel on Thursday that it has decided to abstain from taking part in the vote. The Czech Republic, previously expected to oppose the bid, is likely to refrain from voting as well. At least 15 European countries will vote in favor of the request while the rest are to abstain.
A Palestinian resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority's UN observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation UN General Assembly.
Israel, the United States and a handful of other members are planning to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is in New York ahead of the vote, said that that he resisted overwhelming pressure to withdraw the bid. He stated he isn't scared of Israeli threats and therefore has not bolstered the security around him.
"If Israel wants to hurt me it can, because I live under an occupation like all Palestinians," he said.
No Palestinian consensus
Despite reports that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are behind Abbas in his statehood bid, spokespeople for the groups made it clear there is no extensive support for the move.
"The UN bid doesn't have practical significance," said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman. "The Palestinian Authority didn't poll the public before making its decision. A UN request should be based on a Palestinian consensus."
The Islamic Jihad's Abdullah al-Shami added: "We will never support Abbas' UN bid. Our goal and our ideals extend beyond the UN General Assembly."
Demonstrations in support of Abbas were to be held in cities across the West Bank on Thursday. His speech before the General Assembly was to be projected on giant screens. In Bethlehem, the address was to be project on the security fence.
"I support the UN request because I think we can garner the international community's support," one Ramallah resident said. "The current international climate is good for us."
But another Ramallah man said the UN resolution "will mean a big loss for the Palestinians, because some countries will cut aid to the West Bank."
Itamar Eichner, Elior Levy and Reuters contributed to the report
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