By Joel Gulhane and Ethar Shalaby
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that President Mohammed Morsy has confirmed Egypt will support the Palestinian bid for non-state United Nations membership. Morsy and Abbas agreed that the bid will be presented to the General Assembly on 29 November at the UN headquarters in New York.
Abbas made the announcement alongside Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr after a meeting with Morsy at the presidential palace. Abbas said, “the discussions were brotherly and open-hearted. President Morsy said that Egypt will give full and complete support to the Palestinian cause.”
During the meeting Morsy told Abbas that Egypt will encourage other countries to support the bid.
Abbas expressed uncertainty over how successful the bid will be, saying “we do not need a large number of votes to win the bid but we will face some challenges.”
A statement released yesterday by the White House confirmed that United States President Barack Obama spoke to Abbas on the telephone. According to the statement Obama “reiterated the United States’ opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations.”
Abbas rejected this criticism and pointed out that the building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land was the first unilateral act in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He also denied that Hamas had criticised the bid and said “the bid is for the benefit of all Palestinians.”
Israel has also confirmed that it is preparing a counter bid.
Abbas commented on Amr’s recent visit to Turkey where he “met with his counterparts and discussed the best way to support the Palestinian bid.” Amr also met with Palestinian representatives two weeks ago and assured them of Egyptian support.
If the bid is successful, Abbas said, “Our hearts will be open to start peace negotiations. We cannot call ourselves an independent state, we are an occupied state.” He added, “There are six or seven issues in the final stages of negotiations with Israel. If we can finalise these we can say that we are a stable state.”
Abbas also talked about the Palestinian refugee issue, he referred to UN resolution 194 which confirms the right of return for refugees and stresses that those who donot wish to return should be compensated for the loss of their property. He also pointed to the 2004 Arab peace initiative which said that the refugee problem will not be solved without an agreement from both sides.