Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told foreign journalists… (Mohamad Torokman / Reuters )
Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that no amount of international pressure or any last-minute concessions, including a settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, would stop him from taking the Palestinian statehood plan to the U.N. Security Council this month.
In a briefing with foreign journalists at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas brushed aside warnings he said he had received this week from American officials about a possible confrontation with the United States, as well as the flurry of diplomatic efforts launched by the Mideast "quartet" — the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — to craft a compromise.
"To be frank with you, they came too late," he said. "If they come now, in this short time, and say, OK, we have a package and don't go to the U.N., I think it would be a game."
But Abbas added that Palestinians remain open to returning to negotiations after their U.N. bid is heard, as long as Israelis agree to halt settlement construction and resume discussions based on the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed upon swaps of land.
The Palestinians believe U.N. membership would improve their bargaining position, he said.
It is highly doubtful that the Palestinians will gain membership because U.S. officials have vowed to veto their bid in the Security Council. U.S. and Israeli officials say the U.N. initiative would deal a blow to peace talks.
If the U.S. vetoes the Palestinian application, the Palestinians may turn to the General Assembly, where a majority of members is expected to approve a resolution to upgrade the Palestinians' status from observer "entity" to non-member "state."
Palestinian analysts say Abbas has come too far in pushing the U.N. plan to turn back.
"Backing down now would be political suicide," said Sam Bahour, a Ramallah-based political consultant. "Abbas is putting his entire career on the line with this move."