17 Sep 2011

Palestinian leader to demand full UN membership

9:09 pm on 17 September 2011

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will demand full membership in the United Nations when he goes to the General Assembly next week.

In a speech in Ramallah on Friday, Mr Abbas said he will seek a vote in the Security Council. That sets up a diplomatic clash with Israel and the United States, both of which are firmly opposed to such a move, arguing that a Palestinian state can only be created through direct negotiations.

Washington has already said it will veto any statehood bid in the Security Council.

Mr Abbas said he wanted recognition as a state within 1967 borders.

This includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as their capital. All of these areas were occupied by Israel in 1967.

Mr Abbas said more than 126 countries have now recognised Palestine as a state and his people have run out of patience.

He said he will go to the UN with an olive branch so that peace talks with Israel can start again.

The BBC says a US veto at the UN could inflame Arab opinion at a time of huge upheaval in the Middle East.

But Mr Abbas urged Palestinians to remain peaceful, saying violence would harm their cause, and stressed that the UN move was not a substitute for negotiations.

He is due to address the General Assembly on 23 September.