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Abbas says unafraid of Israel, US threats

Nov. 29, 2012 11:10 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 30, 2012 8:55 A.M.)
NEW YORK (Ma’an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he was ready to address the UN General Assembly in New York before it upgrades Palestine's status at the United Nations.

"The whole world realizes that the Palestinian Authority with all its political, security, services and administrative bodies has been ready to upgrade its status for six years," Abbas told reporters.

The president said he was determined to go to the UN despite pressure from countries opposed to the initiative and Palestinians have a right to sovereignty on what is left of their homeland.

Referring to threats from Israel and the United States, Abbas said "if the Israeli authorities want to threaten my life, they can," because he already lives under occupation along with all Palestinians.

The US State Department said Wednesday that Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and US Middle East peace envoy David Hale traveled to New York on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to get Abbas to reconsider.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated to reporters in Washington the US view that the Palestinian move was misguided and efforts should focus instead on reviving the stalled Middle East peace process.

"The path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York," she said. "The only way to get a lasting solution is to commence direct negotiations."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reiterated US warnings that the move could lead to a reduction of US economic support for the Palestinians.

The Palestinian resolution will change the Palestinian Authority's UN observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," like the Vatican. It is expected to pass easily later Thursday.

Abbas has been leading the campaign to win support for the resolution, and over a dozen European governments have offered him their support after an eight-day conflict this month in the Gaza Strip.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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