Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas made history in his people’s long quest for statehood as he formally asked the United Nations on Friday to admit Palestine as a full member state. Snubbing fierce opposition from Israel and its regional ally the United States, Abbas handed the application letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon at 11:35 am (1535 GMT) buoyed by more than 120 nations which have already recognized a Palestinian state.
He made the request in a letter, handed to Ban in a white folder adorned with a Palestinian eagle logo. “The American administration did everything in its power to disrupt our project, but we are going through with it despite the obstacles and the pressure because we are asking for our rights,” Abbas said late Thursday. “There are small countries in the world that have gained their freedom and independence, but we still haven’t got ours,” he told the Palestinian community in New York.
Reaction from Israel was swift, with a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling AFP, “We regret the step.” Ban will now pass the landmark request to the UN Security Council, but a vote on admitting the Palestinians as a full member state could take weeks, leaving time for more diplomatic wrangling. Palestinians were seized by the historic nature of the moment, which comes more than six decades after the creation of Israel in 1948.