Palestinians set date for U.N. statehood bid


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority reportedly will ask the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state on the first day of the body’s new session.

P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas will ask U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to present the request to the Security Council on Sept. 20 — the opening of the U.N. General Assembly’s 66th session — the French news service AFP reported over the weekend.

Riyad al-Malki, the P.A.’s foreign minister, informed Ban of the timing, according to AFP.

"We will insist on this historic initiative and Ban Ki-moon will present the request to the Security Council," al-Malki said.

Lebanon will hold the presidency of the Security Council during September and Qatar will chair the Security Council, making September even more attractive for the request, al-Malki reportedly said.

It is believed that the United States will veto the request in the Security Council, but the General Assembly is likely to approve the upgrading of the Palestinian Authority’s status from observer entity to non-member state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision an "expected but regrettable step" in a statement released from the Israeli leader’s office late Saturday night. The statement said that Abbas has "apparently decided to avoid direct negotiations with Israel."

Meanwhile, a Palestinian official reportedly told AFP that Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres recently held four secret meetings in Amman, Jordan, and London in order to try to jump-start peace negotiations. A fifth meeting was canceled two weeks ago after Netanyahu refused to allow Peres to go to Amman for a previously scheduled meeting with Abbas.

In anticipation of expected demonstrations and attempted infiltrations following the Palestinians’ attempt to achieve statehood at the U.N., the Israeli army is planting anti-personnel mines at the Syrian border between Syria and the Golan Heights.

On May 15, protesters from Syria, Lebanon and Gaza marking Nakba Day, or Catastrophe Day — the day Israel achieved statehood in 1948 — tried to breach Israel’s border, and some succeeded. As many as four Syrian protesters and up to 10 Lebanese protesters were killed during the infiltration attempts.

Protesters in Syria on June 5 again attempted to cross the border into Israel. Syria claims that 24 people were killed during the frenzy. 

Mines planted by the Israeli military in the 1970s failed to detonate during the recent infiltration attempts.

The operation will continue for several weeks, the IDF’s weekly magazine, Bamahane, reported.


Recommended from JTA