Palestinian statehood vote at U.N.: Full steam ahead

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Central Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 27, 2011.
AP Photo
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a meeting of the Central Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 27, 2011.
Majdi Mohammed

The Palestinian issue -- and a vote on Palestinian statehood at the U.N. General Assembly this month -- continues to be the likely front burner issue at this year's General Debate, which will hear from President Obama, starting on September 21.

Dan Diker, Secretary General of World Jewish Congress, who was at the U.N. for a press briefing with the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians on the Palestinian statehood question, told CBS News that, regardless of efforts to avert the vote by restarting the peace process, the vote is likely to occur.

Diker told CBS in an exclusive interview after the briefing, "(Palestinian President) Mahmoud Abbas is going to soon end his political career. Mahmoud Abbas, from his point of view, wants to leave Palestinian politics having made a positive contribution, from his point of view, to the Palestinian people. This is a legacy issue for Mahmoud Abbas."

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Palestinians want to return to negotiations and they want stability, jobs and negotiations, according to a survey sponsored by The Israel Project of the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank, conducted by Stan Greenberg in partnership with the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.

But on the vote, the decision to go forward, with all the implications, including a possible cut off of international aid, may be made solely by Abbas. Diker said, "No Palestinian leader wants to anger the United States, especially when it comes to supplying aid and being the chief sponsor of the peace process in the international community. For the Palestinians to be doing this indicates very clearly, and, I know from Palestinians sources, that this is an internal Palestinian issue, it is a legacy issue for Abbas."

But not all Palestinians think the vote is a good idea, including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

"Fayyad would much prefer a negotiated solution because he understands that this move is a death knell for the Palestinian statehood project, and it is a death knell for the peace process and Mr. Fayaad understands that," Diker added.

  • Pamela Falk

    Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.