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UPDATE 1-Abbas Urges U.N. Recognition of Palestinian State

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 02:29 PM

 

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* Israel lobbying against Palestinian U.N. bid

* U.S. pressure on Israel failed to stop settlements-Abbas

(Adds Netanyahu statement, Israeli official comment)

JERUSALEM, May 17 (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the international community on Tuesday to recognise a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September and support its admission to the world body.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Abbas said U.S. political pressure had failed to stop Israel's settlement programme in the occupied West Bank and Palestinians "cannot wait indefinitely" for a state of their own.

"Our quest for recognition as a state should not be seen as a stunt; too many of our men and women have been lost for us to engage in such political theatre," he wrote, in an article that appeared three days before U.S. President Barack Obama hosts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

"We call on all friendly, peace-loving nations to join us in realising our national aspirations by recognising the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and by supporting its admission to the United Nations," Abbas said, referring to boundaries that embrace the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu's high-profile visit to Washington, where he will also address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on May 24, is widely seen as part of an Israeli diplomatic drive to persuade major international players to oppose the Palestinian bid.

The United States has been cool to the idea of U.N. recognition and has urged the Palestinians and Israel not to take unilateral steps that could jeopardise a final peace settlement.

TALKS STALLED

U.S.-hosted peace talks stalled shortly after they resumed in Washington eight months ago in a dispute over new building in settlements Israel has built in the West Bank, territory it captured with the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War.

"Palestine's admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalisation of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one," Abbas said.

Recognition in September, when the U.N. General Assembly meets, would enable Palestine to negotiate "from the position of one United Nations member whose territory is military occupied by another ... and not as a vanquished people ready to accept whatever terms are put in front of us", he said.

Abbas defended his unity deal with Hamas, an Islamist group that seized the Gaza Strip in 2007, against Israel's charge that the accord dealt a blow to peace.

"Negotiations remain our first option, but due to their failure we are now compelled to turn to the international community to assist us in preserving the opportunity for a peaceful and just end to the conflict. Palestinian national unity is a key step in this regard," he wrote.

"Contrary to what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel asserts, and can be expected to repeat this week during his visit to Washington, the choice is not between Palestinian unity and peace with Israel; it is between a two-state solution and settlement-colonies."

Setting the stage for his U.S. trip, Netanyahu told Israel's parliament on Monday that a Palestinian government that includes Hamas -- whose founding charter calls for the Jewish state's destruction -- could not be a peace partner.

But, drawing criticism from settler leaders and right-wing politicians, Netanyahu held out the prospect of handing over parts of the West Bank if the Palestinians accepted his peace terms, saying a deal would encompass "tracts of our homeland".

Those conditions, which include Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and acceptance of a long-term Israeli military presence along the eastern border of their future state, have been rejected by Abbas.

A written statement issued by Netanyahu's office on Tuesday said that Abbas's essay showed "The Palestinian leadership saw the establishment of a Palestinian state as a way to continue the conflict with Israel, rather than end it."

"Abbas has chosen a strategy to establish a Palestinian state and use this improved position to wage a diplomatic and legal war against Israel," said a senior Israeli government official, who declined to be named. (Writing by Jeffrey Heller; editing by Tim Pearce)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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