Palestinian president prepares new U.N. appeal

  • Associated Press August 24, 2014
Palestinian relatives salvage belongings from the rubble of a three-story building belonging to the Abdul Hadi family damaged after an Israeli strike in Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip Sunday. - Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Aides to the Palestinian president said Sunday he will soon appeal to the international community to set a deadline for Israel to end its occupation of lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war and make way for an independent Palestinian state.

The aides said President Mahmoud Abbas would present his proposal as part of a “day after” plan following the end of the current war in the Gaza Strip. Abbas is expected to unveil his plan at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership Tuesday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because he has not yet made the plan public.

One official said Abbas grew disillusioned after two decades of failed efforts to reach a negotiated peace settlement with Israel. He said the Palestinians want a fixed date for an Israeli withdrawal from lands claimed by the Palestinians and a timetable for establishing a Palestinian state.

“This should be done through a mechanism to compel Israel as the occupying power to end its occupation and agree on a timetable for the implementation of the withdrawal,” he said.

With Israel at war with Hamas militants in Gaza, Abbas has been searching for ways to assert himself on the international stage. He is seeking a foothold back in Gaza, which was captured from his forces by Hamas seven years ago, and is eager to show the Palestinian public he is working to end the fighting and lead the Palestinians to independence.

In an interview on Egyptian television over the weekend, Abbas said he would soon present his plans to Arab, American and European leaders.

“It is an unconventional solution, but I will not declare a war on Israel. It is a political and diplomatic solution,” he said.

He declined to elaborate, saying only that he would tell the United Nations in an address next month that the Palestinians want independence immediately. “Otherwise, this opportunity will be lost forever,” he said.

An aide to Abbas said the plan would include an appeal to the Security Council to call for an end to Israel’s occupation of lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza for their state. Israel captured all three areas in 1967, though it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

With Israel opposed to a withdrawal to its pre-1967 lines, it will likely seek U.S. help in thwarting the bid. The U.S. has historically vetoed Security Council resolutions seen as unfavorable to Israel.

The Palestinian official said that if this happens, the Palestinians will then begin the process of joining the International Criminal Court, where they could pursue war crimes charges against Israel.

Israel strongly opposes Palestinian attempts to pursue independence at the United Nations, saying it is an attempt to circumvent the negotiating process. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined comment on the latest Palestinian plans, saying it wanted to receive details officially.


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