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Israel pushes back on Palestinian bid for new UN status

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Why are they pursuing this change in UN status?

"First of all, ... we want to exercise our right to self-determination," says Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department.

"Second, because we want to save the two-state solution," he adds. "Israel is destroying a two-state solution ... [such] that the prospects for what the international community defines as a just and lasting peace along 1967 borders may no longer be possible."

Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, the number of Israelis living outside the 1967 borders has nearly doubled from 281,000 to more than 550,000, complicating the prospects of establishing a Palestinian state on that land. Palestinians have sought an Israeli settlement freeze before returning to the negotiating table, but Israel has refused. Many see the PLO's UN bid as a last-ditch effort.

Would the move have any practical effect?

Diana Buttu, an international human rights lawyer and former adviser to the PLO negotiating team, says it's symbolic. "While I hope that [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] would use these international mechanisms to hold Israel accountable, from what I've seen and heard Abbas is doing this largely for symbolic reasons," she says.

Mr. Abu Eid, the PLO spokesman, begs to differ.

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