The bold bid made by Mahmoud Abbas for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood is doomed to fail but has won him admiration at home and sparked new international efforts to seek a negotiated settlement.
Thousands of jubilant, flag-waving Palestinians watching on outdoor screens across the West Bank, cheered on their president on Friday as he submitted his historic request for a UN nod. In Nablus, the crowd roared ecstatically when Abbas told the UN General Assembly that he had submitted the request for full UN membership.
In New York, Abbas' speech was interrupted repeatedly by thunderous applause as he told the largely sympathetic gathering of world leaders that the Palestinians had had enough of negotiations that have failed to bring about a solution for nearly two decades and yielded few tangible results for the millions who live under Israeli occupation.
The new Palestine he envisioned would be in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967.
"It is a moment of truth and my people are waiting to hear the answer of the world," Abbas said. "At a time when the Arab peoples affirm their quest for democracy — the Arab Spring — the time is now for the Palestinian Spring, the time for independence."
UN chief Ban Ki-moon referred the statehood request to the Security Council, where US opposition is expected to shoot it down. The US — which maintains long term peace can only be reached through negotiations — and Israel have also been pressuring council members to either vote against the plan or abstain when it comes up for a vote. The vote would require the support of nine of the council's 15 members to pass, but even if the Palestinians could line up that backing, a US veto is assured.
The Security Council will meet on Monday to examine the Palestinian membership request.