UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Defying U.S. and Israeli opposition, Palestinians asked the United Nations on Friday to accept them as a member state, sidestepping nearly two decades of troubled negotiations in the hope this dramatic move on the world stage would reenergize their quest for an independent homeland.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was greeted by sustained applause and appreciative whistles as he approached the dais to deliver a speech outlining his people's hopes and dreams of becoming a full member of the United Nations. Negotiations with Israel "will be meaningless" as long as it continues building on lands the Palestinians claim for that state, he declared, warning that his government could collapse if the construction persists.
"This policy is responsible for the continued failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace process," said Abbas, who has refused to negotiate until the construction stops. "This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence."
Rebuffing an intense U.S.-led effort to pressure him to drop the statehood bid, he said he had asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem and grant it full membership in the world body.