It was expected, but this is still a striking move: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has submitted his formal request for the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a full-fledged member state, Al Jazeera reported. Rejecting U.S. calls to hold off on the move until further negotiations with Israel, Abbas "handed a letter requesting the membership to Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, before delivering his speech at the annual General Assembly," The New York Times reported. The call for recognition came after heavy U.S. pressure to wait, both in public and in private negotiations, The Times reported. But Palestinians welcomed it. Al Jazeera has word of the celebrations getting underway:
Palestinians across the West Bank have set in motion plans to celebrate the formal submission of their bid to become a United Nations member state, despite opposition from the United States and Israel.
In city centres, giant television screens were set up so residents could watch Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, deliver a historic address to the 193 member states of the UN General Assembly.
Palestinians are to begin gathering in large numbers in the early evening before Abbas is scheduled to submit the bid to Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, at 1535 GMT in New York.
Moon was passing the request to the U.N. Security Council, where the United States has said it will veto it. But the symbolism for Palestine is strong, and the nation is elated. Al Jazeera reports: "The three main Palestinian newspapers also dedicated their front pages to the bid, and the inside pages were dotted with paid advertisements from individuals and businesses expressing their support for Abbas and the UN move.