The Palestinians have set September 20th as the date for the much-anticipated vote over Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, according to AFP.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the international community to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state on the first day of the annual opening gathering at UN headquarters in New York.
“Abbas will personally present the request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon… at the opening of the sixty-sixth session,” he was quoted as saying by the French news wire. “[Abbas] will insist on this historic initiative and Ban Ki-moon will present the request to the Security Council.”
The announcement cast aside speculation that the Palestinians might quietly step back from their bid for statehood in response to mounting international pressure against it.
Israel adamantly opposes the Palestinian move saying a unilateral declaration of independence would be detrimental to the peace process.
In recent months it has been engaged in extensive diplomatic efforts to prevent a confrontation with Palestinians at the UN over statehood. The US has publicly said it would oppose such a vote in the Security Council and independent observers like the New York Times have argued pressing for Palestinian independence given Israel’s and the US’s opposition would be “profoundly damaging to all involved.”
Last month, an open session at the Security Council on the Middle East turned into a dress rehearsal for the expected vote in September.
“With international political and financial support this plan has reached its objectives as acknowledged by the international community,” a Palestinian envoy told the Security Council. “We have completed our responsibilities and are ready to govern ourselves.We cannot keep waiting for Israel to negotiate with good faith.”
Israel retorted by saying Palestinians were deeply divided between Hamas and Fatah, which have fought each other in a civil war, and that recognition of Palestinian statehood would bring instability to the region.
“On behalf of whom will you present a resolution in September? Mr. Abbas or Hamas?” asked Israel’s ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor. “Will it be on behalf of both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist organization, which advances a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews?”
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