Palestinians set date for U.N. statehood bid

The Palestinian Authority will ask the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state on the first day of the body’s new session.

P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas will take the Palestinian’s case to the U.N. on Sept. 20, when he asks U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to present the request to the Security Council, the French news service AFP reported over the weekend

Sept. 20 is the opening of the U.N. General Assembly’s 66th session.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki informed Ban of the timing, according to AFP.

“We will insist on this historic initiative and Ban Ki-moon will present the request to the Security Council,” al-Malki said.

Lebanon will hold the presidency of the Security Council during September and Qatar will chair the Security Council, making September even more attractive for the request, al-Malki reportedly said.

It is believed that the United States will veto the request in the Security Council, but the General Assembly is likely to approve the upgrading of the Palestinian Authority’s status from observer entity to non-member state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision an “expected but regrettable step,” in a statement released from his office late Saturday night. The statement said that Abbas has “apparently decided to avoid direct negotiations with Israel.”

Meanwhile, a Palestinian official reportedly told AFP that Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres recently held four secret meetings in Amman and London in order to try to jump start peace negotiations. A fifth meeting was cancelled two weeks ago after Netanyahu refused to allow Peres to head to Amman, Jordan for a previously scheduled meeting with Abbas.