Palestinian leaders have said that they will formally request recognition of their state and full membership of the UN next month, despite strong US opposition amid warnings that such a move would jeopardise future peace talks.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will personally present the application to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon before the UN general assembly opens on September 20.
The UN has the moral, legal, political and historical responsibility to recognise Palestine and “to put an end to the Israeli occupation”, said Palestinian foreign minister Ryad Malki.
Abbas is to travel to Lebanon on Tuesday to discuss the plan. Lebanon will hold the rotating presidency of the UN security council next month and is expected to be sympathetic to the Palestinian campaign.
The Israeli prime minister’s office said the Palestinian move was “expected and regrettable”. “Binyamin Netanyahu [the Israeli PM] still believes that only through direct and honest negotiations — not through unilateral decisions — will it be possible to advance the peace process,” the statement said.
The Palestinian decision to adopt the UN approach is borne of frustration over stalled negotiations. Direct talks broke down last September when Israel refused to extend a temporary freeze on settlement expansion. The Palestinians also hope that UN recognition of their state will increase international pressure on Israel to end its 44-year occupation.
Full membership of the UN requires the backing of the 15-member security council before approval by the general assembly. The US has already stated its intention to veto such a move. The UK, also a permanent member of the security council, has not declared its position.