Abbas due in New York ahead of critical UN vote on Palestinian statehood 'upgrade'


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due in New York to prepare for Thursday’s UN General Assembly vote to upgrade Palestine to a non-member state of the United Nations.

The result of the vote, which will be held on the 65th anniversary of the historic UN partition vote in 1947 that divided Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state, appears to be a foregone conclusion, with at least 150 of the 193 General Assembly members already committed in favour.

Despite intense last-minute pressure from Israel, the US and Britain, some European states including France appear willing to join those voting yes. The US Congress froze $200m (£125m) in Palestinian aid last year when a similar move was made at the UN Security Council. Some Israeli leaders have suggested punishing the Palestinians by crippling the finances of the Palestinian Authority or annexing West Bank territory.

“All our intelligence suggests that because of the American Congress restrictions and the likely response from the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority will find itself financially very badly affected by decisions made in response to the resolution. We just don’t believe it’s the right time,” Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt told the Independent.

American officials confirmed that they were still trying to persuade the Palestinians to cancel the move.

“We are actively trying to convince them that this is a bad idea and is not going to get them the results they ultimately seek,” said Geoffrey Anisman, spokesman for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. “The US focus right now is on convincing the Palestinian Authority that the only way to achieve the goal it seeks is through negotiating.”

But Nabil Shaath, commissioner of international relations for Fatah, told diplomats in Ramallah on Monday the Palestinians were determined to go ahead.

“The Palestinians have the right to seek non-member state status at the UN,” said Mr Shaath.