WEST BANK: U.S. envoys' paper emboldens Abbas to go before U.N.
REPORTING FROM RAMALLAH, WEST BANK -- A paper special U.S. peace envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross presented to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday that was supposed to sway him away from going to the United Nations was what caused Abbas to take a final stand in favor of going, according to Nabil Shaath, a member of Abbas’ Fatah Central Committee.
Abbas told the Palestinian people on Friday that he is going to the Security Council to ask for membership in spite of strong U.S. objections and attempts to have him change his mind.
Shaath, speaking in Ramallah on Saturday, said the U.S. paper Hale and Ross had presented to Abbas when they met him at his headquarters and that was supposed to get him to decide against going to the U.N. has actually increased his resolve to go.
“It was the last straw” that got Abbas to take the decision in favor of going to the U.N. to ask for membership, Shaath said. “It seems that it [the paper] was designed to be rejected,” he said.
The American paper, Shaath said, was worse than a statement the U.S. had wanted the Middle East quartet -- the U.S., the U.N., Russia and the European Union -- to adopt two months ago and which the quartet members had then rejected.
The U.S. paper, he said, referred to the controversial settlements Israel had been building on Palestinian land occupied since 1967 as “demographic changes.” This, he said, would actually legalize the settlements, which the entire world, including the U.S., had so far considered as illegal.
Abbas is going to submit his membership application to the Security Council as soon as he finishes his speech, which he plans to make at the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.
Shaath said it may take a few days to bring it up for discussion and then a vote.
However, he said, if the application was delayed for whatever reason beyond reasonable time, the Palestinian Authority may then go to the U.N. General Assembly to ask for nonmember state.
In his speech to Palestinians Friday, Abbas said that he was going only to the Security Council without saying what would his next step be in case the U.S. vetoes the Palestinian application, as it has already said it would do. He only said that he will hold consultations on the next move.
-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank
Photo: A Palestinian man walks near flags in Ramallah, West Bank. Credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images