Last updated: 16 October, 2012

Abbas eyes Israel talks after UN statehood vote

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has told the United States that he intends to resume peace talks with Israel if his bid to win UN non-member recognition for Palestine succeeds.

“President Mahmud Abbas sent a letter to US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, in which he affirms the commitment of the Palestinian side to the two-state option,” official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted Abbas political adviser Nimr Hammad as saying.

“We are ready to resume negotiations after obtaining international recognition,” he said.

“President Abbas said in his letter that this action is intended to confirm the right of the Palestinian people on their land, which is occupied territory and not a disputed territory,” Hammad continued.

The Palestinians currently hold observer status at the United Nations, and a high-profile bid last September to obtain full member status stalled before it was put to a vote in the UN Security Council.

But obtaining non-member status is achieved through a simple majority vote in the General Assembly, where the Palestinians are expected to easily meet the required threshold of support from more than half the 193 member states.

The United States opposes the bid.

“We continue to make clear that we believe that the only realistic path for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last month.

Direct peace talks have been on hold since late September 2010, with the Palestinians insisting on an Israeli settlement freeze before resuming negotiations and the Israelis calling for talks without preconditions.

In a September 27 address to the UN General Assembly, Abbas said he would seek a vote at the assembly in the coming months to approve Palestine as a “non-member state of the United Nations.”

Unlike the Security Council, where the United States wields a veto, no country can veto a resolution in the General Assembly.