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Abbas: UN to admit Palestine within weeks

Oct. 2, 2012 9:01 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 4, 2012 9:49 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) – President Mahmoud Abbas says he expects the UN General Assembly to vote on a resolution to admit Palestine as a non-member state "in less than a month or a month and a half."

Speaking at his Ramallah office during a ceremony to honor high-achieving students from Jerusalem, Abbas said he expected the vote to be successful.

"We will go back to the UN during this period to get recognition as a state under occupation. We have no problem with that title because it will be a state and not disputed lands.

"This land is ours first and last. It is our occupied land irrespective of settlement expansion here and there. Settlement has been illegal from the beginning to the end and we will not accept it and they have to leave with their settlements and settlers as this land is ours and this Jerusalem is ours."

Palestinian officials say Abbas is unlikely to submit any request to the UN until after US elections in early November. Even then, there are indications the US will seek to derail the effort.

Washington has warned European countries not to support the PLO's bid for "observer state" and threatened financial sanctions against the Palestinian Authority if the bid succeeds, a US memo seen by The Guardian revealed.

In the memo distributed to European representatives, the US expressed concern that Palestine could access the International Criminal Court if it is accepted as a non-member state in the UN. At the ICC, Palestine could challenge Israel's breaches of international law, including its settlement policy, occupation, blockade of Gaza and annexation of East Jerusalem.

The US staunchly opposed the PLO's 2011 bid for full membership of the UN, which failed to pass the Security Council, where Washington holds veto power. The less-ambitious bid for "observer state" does not need approval from the Security Council and is likely to win the majority needed in the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, in Ramallah, Abbas said he had always campaigned for Jerusalem in international forums.

"Deep inside, I used to feel a resentment because the solution for Jerusalem is difficult, but now I feel that Jerusalem is coming back definitely. I wish some of those clerics who issued fatwa against visiting Jerusalem could listen to these words and could see Jerusalem with their very eyes … all Muslims and Arabs across the world must visit Jerusalem and support its people to help them stay firm."

Addressing the General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Abbas said Israel was continuing a campaign to alter Jerusalem's character and reduce the Palestinian population.

"Israel," Abbas said at the UN, "has persisted with its settlement campaign, focusing on Jerusalem and its environs. It is a campaign clearly and deliberately aimed at altering the city's historic character and the glorious image of the Holy City etched in the minds of humankind.

"It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes and prevention of their construction; the revocation of residency rights; the denial of basic services, especially with regard to construction of schools; the closure of institutions; and the impoverishment of Jerusalem's community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are choking the city and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and markets."

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