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U.N. UPDATE: Cheers for Abbas as Palestinians Bid for Statehood

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations that he presented a historic bid for statehood because the peace process had been ?repeatedly smashed against the rocks? by Israel.

?The goal of the Palestinian people is their inalienable national right (to) the state of Palestine,? he said.

?No one with a shred of conscience can reject our bid,? he added to applause from the General Assembly. ?This is a moment of truth. Our people are waiting to hear from the world.?

Delegates gave Abbas a rousing standing ovation as he waved a copy of the statehood declaration and called on the Security Council to act quickly to act on it.

?Enough, enough, enough,? Abbas said. ?It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence.?

He said the Palestinian people had no choice but to seek statehood because Israel refused to negotiate in good faith to end the occupation of Palestinian territory.

?The core issue is that the Israeli government refuses ? to accept (international law),? Abbas declared.

Abbas said Israeli settlement-building was a key obstacle, and accused Israel of ?ethnic cleansing? in the West Bank.

?Israel is the one who continues to steal our land and water,? he said. ?And yet they speak of unilateral actions.?

He also warned that expansion of Israeli settlements and the Israeli security wall in the West Bank could eventually cause the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

The speech was interrupted by applause when Abbas invoked the name of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his vow to not ?let the olive branch from my hand.?

Abbas referred to the unrest that has spread across the Arab world this year, and sought to place the statehood bid in the context of that movement.

?It is time for the Palestinian spring, the spring of independence,? Abbas said.

Speaking minutes after submitting an official request for statehood with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, Abbas praised the international community for trying to mediate between the Palestinians and Israel.

But he accused Israel of repeatedly scuttling peace efforts and stressed that Palestinians had waited patiently in the 18 years since the two sides first opened comprehensive peace talks.

?Every new round of negotiations was shattered on the rocks of the Israeli settlement program,? he said.

He called the statehood bid part of an irreversible effort to live side-by-side with Israel in a two-state solution. He said Israelis have nothing to fear from an independent state of Palestine.

?Let us work together,? he said.

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