U.S. officials are trying to stop Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from appealing to the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian status on Thursday. Palestinians are currently listed as a U.N. observer "entity" with no voting rights, and Abbas is set to ask for this status to be changed to nonmember observer state.
Israeli officials are concerned that the bid may succeed since the Palestinians, with the help of the Arab League, have been known to enjoy an "automatic majority" in the assembly. Israeli officials worry that an upgrade of the status would encourage further unilateral moves by the Palestinians and open the door to their use of the International Court of Justice in The Hague against Israel.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan have recently called Abbas a "political terrorist" due to his relentless pursuit of international recognition for a Palestinian state without first concluding an agreement with Israel. The ministers said they believed Fatah and Hamas were working together against Israel in a coordinated, two-pronged approach, with Fatah, which governs Palestinian areas in Judea and Samaria, handling the political aspect, and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, running the armed struggle aspect.
According to a senior Israeli official, U.S. President Barack Obama has personally told Abbas that his bid at the U.N. "is not wise, not a good idea, not effective and may harm efforts to advance negotiations in the future." The official said the U.S. was taking the initiative to stop the Palestinian bid.
U.S. law now requires the U.S. government to terminate its annual aid to the Palestinian Authority if unilateral steps are taken, a move that experts say would cause the authority to collapse.
The U.S. is also looking for technical ways to thwart the Palestinian bid, while Israel is lobbying European countries to vote against the request. The EU has not yet declared which way it would vote on the matter, although key European countries have expressed their opposition to such Palestinian moves in the past.
Abbas has already arrived in New York and is expected to deliver his request during an address to the assembly on Thursday.
A senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told Israel Hayom on Monday that prior to his trip to New York, Abbas met with Jordanian officials and updated them on how the planned U.N. move was progressing.
"Everything is ready for Thursday. The speech was prepared and we know more or less which countries will support us and which won't. We are not worried about Israel's threats of economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority," the official said.