Palestinian Statehood Push May Derail Peace Efforts

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Palestinian leaders are hoping the United Nations will upgrade their status this week to statehood. It's a move many say will scuttle decades of U.S.-backed peace talks.

Israel, the United States, Canada and a handful of countries are opposing the move by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for non-member state at the U.N.

The PLO sent out a clip of a CNN interview saying Hamas and all Palestinians are united.

"So we really have unanimous, total support for going to the U.N. General Assembly and getting the upgrade to state status," Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member, said.

She added that the move will determine the boundaries of a Palestinian state and its claims to Jerusalem.

"So this is a very significant step," Ashrawi said. "It will enable us to interact with the rest of the world on the basis at least the minimal basis of parity and equality."

The move is largely symbolic. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor says it is meaningless legally, but it will probably embolden Palestinians not to negotiate peace with Israel.

"By going to the General Assembly the Palestinians are breaching, fundamentally breaching the existing agreements so that's not good and this vote certainly will be no incentive for them to return to the negotiations," he said.

Ironically, the move comes 65 years to the day after Arab nations rejected a United Nations resolution calling for a Jewish and Arab state. That's when Britain controlled Palestine. Israel has fought numerous wars during that time for its survival and says there's no going back.

"You can't tell us we fought against you all those years, we've lost battle after battle. Let's get back to the start," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor stated.

Middle East expert Daniel Pipes said the move is negative for both Israel and the Palestinians but the end of the Oslo peace process might not be so bad.

"The idea that this will shatter Oslo and end it is not a negative one," Pipes told CBN News.

He thinks the move shows Abbas' desperation because he's not succeeding at anything else.

"I think Mahmoud Abbas is going to the United Nations in part as part of his rivalry with the Hamas movement to do harm to Israel, but I don't think it's well thought through," he said.

In the end, Pipes concluded, it's probably another case of the Palestinians trying to hurt Israel even if they hurt themselves more in the process.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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