Israelis Sober, Palestinians Elated as Leaders Return

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The United Nations Security Council will begin discussing the Palestinian request for membership as a state on Monday.

As discussions begin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel, a day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas received a hero's welcome home Sunday.

Thousands of cheering, flag-waving Palestinians welcomed Abbas when he returned.

CBN founder Pat Robertson is issuing an urgent call to Christians to pray for the nation of Israel as the U.N considers the vote on Palestinian statehood.

Abbas presented his request on Friday before delivering a fiery speech calling for recognition as a state. He was followed shortly after by Netanyahu, who presented Israel's story.

Calling the U.N. bid, the "Palestinian Spring," Abbas told the crowd at home he had carried their hopes and dreams to the U.N.

He emphasized what he called a peaceful struggle for recognition. The throng responded with chants of "In souls and blood we'll free Palestine."

Abbas' popularity has soared since Friday. Even Palestinians in Gaza celebrated, despite Hamas opposition to Abbas' U.N. request.

Emboldened since Friday, Abbas has called for a change in the peace accords with Israel. He refused to negotiate unless there's building freezes in Israeli communities in biblical Judea and Samaria - the West Bank.

Israel is much more sober.

Netanyahu spent the weekend explaining Israel's position in interviews with American media.

"I think that peace will require two states, a Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state," Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC News's David Muir. 

"They're willing to accept their Palestinian state, but they don't want to recognize the Jewish state," he said. "They want a state without peace."

Netanyahu said he had made all sorts of offers, removed checkpoints to help the Palestinian economy, and even froze Israeli settlement construction.

"And so far, they haven't responded -- the Palestinians," he said.

It's not clear what steps Israel will take on the ground. The Palestinian economy is closely tied to Israel's and some are warning of economic measures against the Palestinians.

Security forces are on high alert against the possibility of violence.

So far, violence has been limited to stone-throwing, but some are blaming Palestinian rock-throwing for a car wreck on Friday that killed an Israeli father and his infant son near Hebron.

It seems for now the U.S. is squarely on Israel's side but what twists and turns the Israeli-Palestinian situation is going to take in the weeks and months ahead, no one knows.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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