Abbas vows to renew U.N. state bid if he doesn’t receive Israeli nod to peace plan


The Palestinian Authority will renew its efforts to win the recognition of the United Nations for a Palestinian state if it does not receive a positive response from Israel to a suggested peace deal, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told an Israeli delegation on Sunday, a report published by an Israeli daily said on Monday.

Abbas gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a month to respond to the Palestinian suggestions, which will be laid out in a letter to be delivered to Netanyahu next Wednesday during a meeting in Jerusalem with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Israel’s Haaretz reported.

“It won’t be just a letter,” Abbas was cited as saying. “I also intend to turn to the public in Israel and around the world, and present the Palestinian positions regarding a peace agreement with Israel.”

Abbas made the comments in a meeting with former Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin and others involved in promoting the Geneva Initiative, an unofficial 2003 proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

The letter is expected to lay out Palestinian conditions for returning to direct negotiations that have been on hold since late September 2010, a Palestinian official told AFP on Sunday.

“It was agreed that a Palestinian delegation, including Fayyad, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Abd Rabbo and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, will meet with Netanyahu on the 17th of this month,” the official said.

According to the report published by Haaretz, Abbas said he would not wait until after the U.S. presidential polls, scheduled in November, before asking the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian Authority from “observer” status to that of a state without full membership in the United Nations. The U.S. administration officials had urged Abbas to wait until after the U.S. presidential voting.

Abbas pledged during the meeting with the Israeli delegation that the Palestinians will continue to cooperate with Israel on security matters as long as he is in office, and that the Palestinian leaders will continue to try to prevent violence.

Netanyahu’s office has said that he will respond with his own letter to Abbas, which is likely to call for a resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions.

Last week, Erakat and Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho held talks believed to have focused on the contents of Abbas’ letter.

They were the first publicly acknowledged discussions since five rounds of so-called exploratory talks between envoys from both sides were held earlier this year.

Those discussions, sponsored by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet and held in Amman, ended in January without any agreement to continue talking or to return to direct negotiations.

The Palestinians have accused Israel of failing to present proposals on borders and security called for by the Quartet, which groups the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

Israel says it wants talks without preconditions, but the Palestinians have sought an Israeli settlement freeze and clear parameters for discussions before resuming direct negotiations.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since September 2010 due to a thorny dispute over Jewish settlement building.