UN bid is not taking Palestine anywhere: Netanyahu



Jerusalem: Faced with the prospect of a stinging diplomatic defeat at the UN, Israel Premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday warned the Palestinian Authority that its unilateral move to seek an upgraded status at the world body will only make its statehood dreams "more distant".

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is poised to bring his bid to seek a "non-member observer state" status for Palestine at the UN General Assembly where a majority of countries, including India, are supporting his resolution.

With Abbas's move likely to sail through at the UNGA, Israel is looking at a major diplomatic defeat at the world body, but Netanyahu appeared unfazed by the prospect.

The hawkish leader said Israel will not be moved no matter how many countries vote against it at the world body.

While touring an exhibit of recently declassified documents marking the upcoming 35th anniversary of Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, Netanyahu said PA's decision will "not change anything on the ground".

"It will not further the establishment of a Palestinian state, but will make it more distant," he said.

The Israeli Premier stressed that regardless of how many (countries) vote against Israel, "no force in the world will get me to compromise on Israel's security". No force in the world, he said, can sever the thousands-year-old ties between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

"Israel's hand is always extended in peace, but a Palestinian state will not be established without recognition of the state of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, without an end of conflict declaration, and without true security arrangements that will protect Israel and its citizens," the Prime Minister emphasised.

Netanyahu said that none of the conditions he reiterated are even mentioned in the Palestinian's UN resolution, and added that peace is only achieved through negotiations, not by unilateral declarations "which do not take into consideration Israel security needs".

The Israeli leader called upon the audience to not get impressed by the applause that will likely be heard later at the UN General Assembly.

"I remember the international community's applause that the government of Israel received when it decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza," he said adding, "We got applause and then rocket fire. We left Gaza, and Iran entered, exactly like what happened in Lebanon".

Netanyahu said he would not enable another Iranian base to be established, this time in Judea and Samaria, a kilometer away from Jerusalem.

"It does not matter how many will vote against us, there is no force in the world that will cause me to compromise on Israeli security and there is no force in the world able to sever the thousands year connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel," he said.

The UN General Assembly is set to approve a Palestinian resolution that would change the PA's UN observer status from "entity" to a "non-member state", like the Vatican, much to the chagrin of Israel and the US that have threatened to withhold the much-needed funds from the West Bank based Palestinian government.

Israel, the US and a handful of other UN members are planning to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Abbas, who is in New York ahead of the vote, said that that he resisted overwhelming pressure to withdraw the bid.

He stated he isn't scared of Israeli threats and therefore has not bolstered the security around him.

"If Israel wants to hurt me it can, because I live under an occupation like all Palestinians," he said.

Despite reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are behind Abbas in his statehood bid, spokespersons for the groups made it clear there is no extensive support for the move.

"The UN bid doesn't have practical significance," said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman.

"The Palestinian Authority didn't poll the public before making its decision. A UN request should be based on a Palestinian consensus," al-Masri added.

The Islamic Jihad's Abdullah al-Shami said, "We will never support Abbas' UN bid. Our goal and our ideals extend beyond the UN General Assembly".

Demonstrations in support of Abbas were to be held in cities across the West Bank on Thursday.

His speech before the General Assembly is to be projected on giant screens across the PA controlled West Bank to muster support for the Palestinian leader whose influence seems to be waning following an interview to an Israeli newspaper in which vowed to prevent any further flare up leading to another intifada.

PTI