Abbas: Palestinian statehood bid going forward

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sept. 16, 2011. AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Palestinian president said Friday that he will ask the U.N. Security Council next week to endorse his statehood bid, a step that would risk a threatened U.S. veto in the council.

But in a speech to the Palestinian people before departing for New York, President Mahmoud Abbas appeared to leave himself some wiggle room, saying he did not rule out other, unspecified options. He also acknowledged that his U.N. move would not end the Israeli occupation and cautioned against outsized hopes.

"We don't want to raise expectations by saying we are going to come back with full independence," Abbas said in an address to Palestinian leaders. He said he was going to the United Nations to "ask the world to shoulder its responsibilities" by backing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

He urged the Palestinian people to refrain from violence, saying "anything other than peaceful moves will harm us and sabotage our endeavors."

Israel — and Washington — oppose the Palestinians' quest for a U.N. nod, saying the only way to deliver a Palestinian state is through negotiations, the cornerstone of Mideast peace efforts for the past two decades.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Thursday that Abbas would submit his statehood bid to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon after addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23.

Although things will not change on the ground, the Palestinians hope the U.N. move will give them greater leverage in future negotiations with Israel by elevating their international profile and giving them access to world bodies like the International Criminal Court.

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