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Briefing

Israel pushes back on Palestinian bid for new UN status

The Palestinians are seeking a global mandate for statehood at the United Nations. Israel warns the move would nullify the Oslo Accords.

By Staff writer / November 14, 2012

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in this Sept. 27 file photo. The Palestinians are seeking a global mandate for statehood at the United Nations this month.

Seth Wenig/AP/File

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Jerusalem

With no progress on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in four years, Palestinians are seeking a global mandate for statehood at the United Nations. They hope the bid will revive momentum for a sovereign Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

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If the Palestinians move forward, Israel is threatening to treat the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians as null and void. And Reuters is reporting that a draft document in Israel’s foreign ministry floats the option of “dismantling the Palestinian Authority” and “toppling” its president, Mahmoud Abbas. 

Here’s a briefing on what’s behind this dispute:

What is the Palestinian status in the UN?

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the official representative of the Palestinian people, has been an observer at the United Nations since 1974. Last year, it tried to gain membership, but the United States and other countries on the UN Security Council rejected the bid.

This year the PLO is seeking to become a nonmember observer state instead of just an "entity." This move, which does not require approval from the Security Council, has broad support among the UN's 193 members and is expected to come in the second half of this month.

If the PLO is granted that status, which is currently held only by the Vatican, Palestinians say it will represent a global acknowledgment of Palestine as a state.

Why are they pursuing this change in UN status?

"First of all, ... we want to exercise our right to self-determination," says Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department.

"Second, because we want to save the two-state solution," he adds. "Israel is destroying a two-state solution ... [such] that the prospects for what the international community defines as a just and lasting peace along 1967 borders may no longer be possible."

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