Abbas pleads for statehood at UN assembly

Palestine president greeted with thunderous applause by delegates

Abbas pleads for statehood at UN assembly

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds a letter requesting recognition of Pa­le­s­tine as a State as he addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. AP

In a historic move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon a formal application for the admission of Palestine as a full member of the world body and thus re­cognise it as a State on the ba­­s­is of June 4, 1967 borders wi­th Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

“The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent ho­meland,” Abbas said in his ad­­dress to the UNGA. The Ge­n­eral Assembly witnessed an un­precedented scene, when the 76-year-old chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive committee ca­me to the podium amid thunderous applause and standing ovations by delegates of a large nu­mber of countries.

 It reflected not only the overwhelming support for his bid for statehood for his homeland, but also the growing isolation of Israel and US. Abbas waved a copy of his application to the UN Secretary General towards the end of his spirited address that was repeatedly punctuated by ovations.

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday opposed the Palestinian bid. Obama said that the Israel-Palestine conflict could be resolved only through a peace-process, not through statements and resolution in the international body.

But Abbas on Friday said that it was “no longer possible to redress the issue of the blockage of the peace talks with the same means and methods” that had been repeatedly tried and proven unsuccessful over the past years. “The crisis is far too deep to be neglected and what is more dangerous are attempts to simply circumvent it or postpone its explosion.”

“It is a moment of truth and my people are waiting to hear the answer of the world... Will it allow Israel to remain a state above the law and accountability?” he wondered.

Abbas’ plea will now go to the UNSC, which will then study and vote on it. But as the US already made it clear that it would veto any resolution recognising Palestine as a member State, the diplomats of the “Quartet of Mideast mediators” on Friday continued efforts to avoid a confrontation with a compromise. Efforts were also on to craft a statement from the Quartet – the US, Russia, EU and UN – to resume the stalled peace-process, so that Washington did not have to resort to veto, which could further isolate it globally.

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