Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a
ceremony marking the eighth anniversary of the death of
late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city
of Ramallah on Sunday. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeated an offer
to restart peace talks with Israel after a UN vote to recognise
Palestine as an observer state later this month.
"We had agreed to go get the vote on November 29 ... the
majority needed for the vote will be on our side," Abbas told
reporters of the planned UN vote. He was speaking in Cairo at
a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers.
"If it is possible to start talks on the following day (after
acquiring the observer status) then we are ready for that,"
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority circulated a draft
resolution to UN member states on Wednesday calling for
upgrading its UN status to that of observer state, despite
objections by the United States and Israel.
Washington says it favours eventual statehood for Palestine,
but wants it to come as a result of negotiations with Israel.
The United States can block full recognition of Palestine as
a UN member at the Security Council, where it has a veto, but
the 193-nation UN General Assembly can still grant observer
Abbas's proposal, to be put to a vote in the General Assembly
later this month, would implicitly recognise Palestinian
statehood and could also grant access to bodies such as the
International Criminal Court in The Hague.
"We do not want to clash with anyone, neither with America
nor with Israel nor with anyone else," Abbas said. He asked
the Arab League states for their "blessings".
The upgrade seems certain to win approval in any vote in the
193-nation General Assembly, which is composed mostly of
post-colonial states historically sympathetic to the
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled over
Israel's refusal to first halt settlement building in
territory where the Palestinians want their state.