Skip to main content

Abbas calls for Palestinian unity after 'birth certificate' for Palestinian state

From the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:33 AM EST, Mon December 3, 2012
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls for an end to Palestinian divisions
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls for an end to Palestinian divisions
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Abbas said the "most important" Palestinian mission is "national unity"
  • Clinton says U.N. decision "will not bring us closer to peace"
  • World leaders warn building new settlements will set back peace talks

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Standing before throngs of cheering supporters Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an end to the division among Palestinians in the wake of the United Nations upgrading the authority's status -- as Israel refused to acknowledge that newfound recognition.

"The people who have achieved the accomplishment of the 29th of November, when the world wrote the birth certificate of the state of Palestine, are capable of imposing the will of the people in making the reconciliation happen," he said at a packed rally in Ramallah.

The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday elevated the authority's status from "non-member observer entity" to "non-member observer state" -- the same category as the Vatican.

Palestinian leaders had previously launched a failed bid for full U.N. membership.

Saeb Erakat talks Palestinian future
Israel responds to UN Palestinian vote
Palestinians celebrate UN status upgrade
Prosor: I heard a speech 'full of hate'

Abbas is a part of the Palestinian faction Fatah, which controls the West Bank. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which has battled Fatah for power and -- until last week -- long opposed its efforts to achieve the status upgrade.

Abbas, speaking Sunday, said there are "a lot of missions" ahead, and the "most important is to restore our national unity and achieve reconciliation."

Israel and the United States have slammed the authority's move at the United Nations, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday it was "a step that will not bring us closer to peace."

And, in response to the U.N. move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused Sunday to reconsider a plan to build thousands of new homes in occupied territory.

The United States and a number of European nations called on Israel to roll back the settlement plan in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which was announced Friday.

Clinton: New Israeli settlements a 'set back' for peace with Palestinians

Israeli settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel insists they are not.

"The answer to the attack on the Zionist character of the state of Israel obliges us to increase the tempo of settlement building plans in all the areas that the government has decided to settle in," Netanyahu said in remarks before the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

He said he was citing "the language of the government decision in 1975 after the U.N. decision that equated Zionism with racism."

Netanyahu has called the Palestinian Authority's U.N. bid "a gross violation" of an agreement signed with the Israeli government. Israel says it violates a Palestinian agreement to work out central issues through negotiation.

Netanyahu has not publicly acknowledged the approval of new construction. But a senior government official said Saturday that the prime minister signed off on building "3,000 housing units" in the East Jerusalem as well as authorizing planning and zoning for future construction in the West Bank town of Ma'ale Adumim.

The Obama administration has repeatedly warned Israel against settling East Jerusalem and the West Bank, particularly the Ma'ale Adumim area, because it would make it nearly impossible to create a contiguous Palestinian state.

The Israeli Cabinet, in a unanimous vote Sunday, rejected the U.N. General Assembly's decision, saying it changes nothing and will not be a basis for negotiations.

The creation of a Palestinian state will require "arrangements that ensure the security of the citizens of Israel, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and a declaration by Palestinians that the conflict is over," the Cabinet statement.

Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula during the 1967 war. The Sinai has since been returned to Egypt. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, a move not recognized by the international community and condemned by Syria, which still claims the land.

Israel withdrew settlers from Gaza in 2005. Hamas has since regularly launched rocket attacks into southern Israel. The Palestinian bid to the United Nations and news of Israeli settlement construction came just days after a cease-fire took hold between Israel and Hamas that brought about an end to a series of Israeli military airstrikes against Gaza launched in an effort to stop the Hamas rocket attacks.

Hezbollah, a militant group and political party in Lebanon, has launched attacks on Israel from the north.

Both Hezbollah and Hamas receive support from Iran. A senior U.S. official told CNN last week that Iran is "finding ways to resupply Hamas" with long range rockets and other weapons.

The European Union, the United States, and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The United States and Israel also consider Hezbollah a terrorist group.

The Palestinian Authority's new U.N. status allows it to have cases heard before the International Criminal Court -- a concern for Israel as Palestinians have repeatedly tried to have their claims heard before the judicial body at the Hague.

International efforts for a "two-state solution" focus on a plan to unite Gaza and West Bank under the authority of a single Palestinian government. Palestinian leaders want the capital in east Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials have refused to enter into new talks with Israel until it stops building settlements on West Bank land. Netanyahu, meanwhile, has said there can be no such preconditions on talks. He has called on Hamas to renounce terrorism and accept the existence of Israel.

CNN's Josh Levs, Michael Schwartz, and Chelsea Carter contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT