President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to US President Barack Obama on Tuesday insisting his government was still committed to the two-state solution.
The letter, according to Abbas’ political adviser Nimir Hammad, explains that the intended bid to the UN General Assembly to obtain the status of a non-member state was not a unilateral move.
Abbas explained in the letter that the UN bid was meant to maintain that the Palestinian people’s land was occupied rather than disputed, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Hammad as saying.
The move, Hammad added, was never meant to isolate Israel, but rather to obtain international recognition which will make the negotiation process easier. The letter highlighted that the Palestinians would be willing to resume negotiations with Israel after they obtain international recognition as a non-member state.
Having failed last year to win recognition of full statehood at the world body, Abbas now seeks a less ambitious promotion to “non-member state”, which would likely be approved by a vote in the UN General Assembly.
Israel sees the Palestinian campaign as an attempt to circumvent bilateral negotiations deadlocked since 2010 over its Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem — opposition echoed by the United States.
On Monday, US envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice said the Palestinian bid “would only jeopardize the peace process”.
“Any efforts to use international fora to prejudge final status issues that can only be resolved directly by the parties will neither improve the daily lives of Palestinians nor foster the trust essential to make progress towards a two state solution,” she said.
The PLO’s current UN status is an “observer entity”. If Abbas wins, that would change to “observer state”, granting Palestinians access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court, where they could file complaints against Israel.
The president of the 193-member UN General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, has said the issue will likely be debated in mid-November, after the US presidential election.
The Palestinians need a simple majority for the upgrade, but predict that between 150 and 170 nations will vote in favor.
The US Congress froze some $200 million in much-needed financial aid to the Palestinians after they took their statehood campaign to the United Nations last year.