Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of thealestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and president of the Palestinian Authority which rules the West Bank, said he will ask the United Nations to admit Palestine as a “non-member observer state” by the end of this month, despite opposition from Israel and the United States.
Moreover, Abbas wants the UN to recognize the pre-1967 borders of Palestine (i.e., prior to Israel's annexation and/or occupation of various Palestinian territories during the Six-Day war).
At the moment, the PLO, which represents the interests of most Palestinian groups, has "permanent observer" status at the UN.
“Non-member observer” status would give the Palestinians greater chance of joining more UN agencies.
Senior Palestinian official Mohammed Shtayyeh told reporters in Ramallah: "We are not postponing this step under any circumstances."
He added: "We're hoping the UN bid becomes a pressure mechanism on Israel to come to the negotiating table with serious proposals."
The renewed bid comes after last year's failed attempt by Abbas to gain “full member” status at the UN, due to rejection by the Security Council.
The latest proposal would be subject to a simple majority by the UN General Assembly, where a veto cannot occur.
On Sunday Abbas spoke by phone with US President Barack Obama, who reiterated his "opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations" and "reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations".
Israel and the US have also threatened to impose financial penalties on the PA should it move with its UN campaign. The Guardian reported that Britain is likely to also oppose the PA's application.
"We may have difficult times ahead," Shtayyer conceded.
"When people speak about punishment measures, it makes us wonder what we did to deserve this. We don't think such a [step] deserves any punishment. We have been asked to choose between bread and freedom. Our choice is both. Of course we need bread but we need freedom as well."
Palestinian officials also assert that peace talks with Israel cannot resume until Israel halts building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Further complicating matters, Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and does not ally itself with Abbas, does not place any importance on UN measures.