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Palestinians' request sent to UN committee

UNITED NATIONS -- Diplomats on the UN Security Council will begin considering as early as Friday the application for statehood that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas submitted to the world body last week.

The application, which Abbas gave to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon just before Abbas delivered a rousing speech at the General Assembly on Friday, was referred by the Security Council president to the Council's Committee on the Admission of New Members Wednesday after members unanimously voted to place it on the agenda.

"After decades of displacement, dispossession and the foreign military occupation of my people and with the successful culmination of our State-building program . . . it is with great pride and honor that I have submitted to you an application for the admission of the State of Palestine to full membership in the United Nations," the document says.

The process could take weeks before it comes to a final vote in the Security Council, but Palestinian leaders have said they believe they have the nine votes needed on the 15-member body for it to carry. They said they are relying on votes from nine countries on the council that have recognized Palestine as a state.

The Security Council decides on recommending admission to the 193-member General Assembly, which then must adopt a resolution to admit a new member state. Palestinians estimate they have been recognized as a state by more than 130 members of the General Assembly.

The Palestinians' proposal must get no vetoes from any of the five permanent members on the Security Council -- the United States, Great Britain, Russia, France and China. U.S. officials have vowed to veto the measure and worked furiously in recent weeks to deter Abbas from submitting the application.

Both the United States and Israel have said that the Israelis and the Palestinians must have direct talks on the statehood issue.

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