Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a PLO central committee meeting in Ramallah
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a PLO central committee meeting in Ramallah Reuters

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is urging European leaders to support Palestine’s statehood and its bid to secure a seat at the United Nations.

Speaking to the parliamentary assemble of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, Abbas declared: Today we are at the heart of the Arab spring: we say that the hour of the Palestinian spring has struck. You supported the Arab spring which was seeking democracy and freedom.”

Abbas added: Now the Palestinian spring has arrived, asking for freedom and an end to the [Israeli] occupation. We deserve your support.

The United States has already vowed to block attempts by Abbas to grant Palestine full membership status at the UN.

Abbas has already praised the Council’s decision to grant Partner for Democracy Status to the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the legislative branch of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). As a result, the PNC will be allowed to participate in the European council’s proceedings, albeit without any voting rights. In exchange, the European body will monitor Palestine with respect to such issues as refraining from violence, rejecting terrorism (and) recognizing the right of Israel to exist.

However, Abbas warned that any peace talks with Israel is contingent upon Israel halting the construction of more settlements in East Jerusalem, He also criticized demands by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel be recognized as the state for the Jewish people.

What makes things more complicated is the fact that the Netanyahu government is insisting on laying down new and impossible conditions which have no basis in the terms of reference for peace or the resolutions adopted under international law, Abbas said.

The demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a 'Jewish' state is an unacceptable precondition, because there is a danger that it will turn the conflict raging in our region into a destructive religious conflict. Faced with the increasing suffering of our people under the occupation… our only alternative has been to turn to the international community and call on it to take action to open up new horizons for the peace process, through recognition of the state of Palestine, on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, and accept its accession as a full member of the United Nations.”

Abbas added some calming words, when he assured: We don’t intend to isolate Israel or take its legitimacy but we want to gain our legitimacy and decide our future and our goals without occupation and settlements.”

Palestine required the support of nine UN Security Council members in order to pass a resolution seeking entry in the UN, subject to subsequent approval by the 193-nation UN General Assembly.

Six council members Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa -- have already declared their support for Palestine’s bid.