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U.N.: Palestinians ask United Nations to accept them as member state

September 23, 2011 | 10:06 am

Abbas 
After nearly 20 years of failed peace talks, Palestinians asked the United Nations on Friday to accept them as a member state, defying U.S. and Israeli opposition.

“The goal of the Palestinian people is the realization of their inalienable national rights in their independent state of Palestine,”  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly after handing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a letter requesting full membership.

“I call upon Mr. Secretary-General to expedite transmittal of our request to the Security Council and I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favor of our full membership,” he said to thunderous applause.

Abbas said the Palestinians remain committed to dialogue. But Israel sees the membership bid as an attempt to avoid difficult negotiations and win concessions from the international community without having to give much in return.

The U.N. Security  Council must consider the Palestinian request and a vote was not expected immediately. The United States has vowed to use its veto power in the Security Council to block full membership.  But the Palestinians could turn to the U.N. General Assembly, which is likely to approve a request to upgrade the Palestinians' current observer status from nonmember "entity" to nonmember "state.”

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-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, poses for a picture with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after giving him a letter requesting recognition of Palestine as a member state during the 66th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Friday. Credit: Seth Wenig / AP

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