29/11/2012 15:53 GMT | Updated 29/11/2012 15:58 GMT

Palestinian Statehood Bid At The United Nations Draws Near

United Nations states are set to vote on Palestinian statehood at the General Assembly on Thursday, as Israeli ministers poured scorn on the move, calling it "without any substance".

But the move has strong support, in the West Bank, across the world and is even supported by many within Israel.

For Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the UN bid is crucial to maintain support and relevance of the Palestinian authority, and would give them legitimacy over their militant rivals in Gaza, Hamas.


A young boy waves a Palestinian flag and makes a peace sign during a rally

The Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour has described the move as "a very important step to save the two-state solution", according to the BBC.

The bid for statehood is expected to be supported at the General Assembly, despite opposition by the US and Israel's official delegations.

The UK, Czech Republic and Germany, who had been expected to oppose the move, will now almost certainly abstain.

Amnesty International has criticised the William Hague for his stance on the vote, after the Foreign Secretary said that the UK would only support a yes vote in today’s UN General Assembly debate if it received various assurances from the Palestinian Authority, including an assurance over deferring any attempt to seek membership of the International Criminal Court.


Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press about the Palestinian bid to the UN

Amnesty International UK’s Head of Policy and Government Affairs Allan Hogarth said: "William Hague shouldn’t be using the International Criminal Court as a political football.

"In the past the UK has been a strong supporter of international justice and the ICC, and the Foreign Secretary shouldn’t be trying to wall off access to the court for Palestinians or anyone else.

"On top of everything else, this move sends a worrying message to the likes of Sudanese president Omar Bashir or the warlord Joseph Kony - both indicted by the ICC - that, when push comes to shove, international justice is negotiable. It isn’t, and shouldn’t be allowed to become so.”

Switzerland, Spain, Denmark and Austria said they would vote for the upgrade, according to Reuters, and France has also given its approval.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in a press statement that their bid will only delay statehood further. He said: "Israel's hand is always extended in peace, but no Palestinian state can be established without a declared resolution of the conflict and viable security arrangements that will protect the State of Israel and its citizens." 

"We want peace but peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations without preconditions and without unilateral UN resolutions that don't take into consideration Israel's existence and security needs.

"Peace will be achieved through agreements made between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

"Don't be impressed by the applause at the UN. I remember the applause that the Israeli government received from the international community when it decided to unilaterally disengage from Gaza.

"We got applause and were attacked by rockets."


Palestinian schoolboys walk past a mural in Gaza City

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon claimed that "the Palestinians will come out the losers in the end" in an interview with Army Radio.

"In my opinion, it's a losing proposition. It's a virtual move without any substance."

But former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying the Palestinian request "is congruent with the basic concept" of the two-state solution in an exchange with the Daily Beast.

He said he had "no reason to oppose it".

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has told Abbas that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator in 2013 if Abbas abandons his claim for statehood. It was a last ditch plea unlikely to shake Abbas' resolve.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement Thursday: "This is a matter for Member States to decide. It is important for all concerned to approach this responsibly and constructively.

"The goal remains realizing the just and lasting peace for which generations of Palestinians and Israelis have been longing -- a peace that will end the occupation that started in 1967, end the conflict and ensure that an independent, viable and sovereign State of Palestine lives side by side with a secure State of Israel.

"I call on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to show vision and determination. I also urge the international community to help them forge a credible political path that will meet the legitimate aspirations of both sides"

The two main other Palestinian factions, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, do not officially support the move, according to Israeli media reports.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman told Ynet: "The UN bid doesn't have practical significance. The Palestinian Authority didn't poll the public before making its decision. A UN request should be based on a Palestinian consensus."

Islamic Jihad's Abdullah al-Shami said: "We will never support Abbas' UN bid. Our goal and our ideals extend beyond the UN General Assembly."