- - Sunday, November 18, 2012

CAIRO — The Palestinian Authority plans to present its bid to upgrade its status at the United Nations next week, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told Arab foreign ministers meeting earlier this month in the Egyptian capital.

“It has been agreed that the request will be present on Nov. 29,” he said, after meeting with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.

President Obama has told Mr. Abbas that the United States opposes the initiative, and Israeli officials have threatened punitive measures if the Palestinians go ahead with the bid.

“We don’t want any confrontations with the United States or Israel. If we could start a dialogue or negotiations the day after the vote, we will,” the Palestinian leader said at the Arab League meeting Nov. 12.

“We know we are a country under occupation, but we want our land which was occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. Israel says Palestinian lands are disputed and open to negotiation and is hurrying to build settlements, covering Jerusalem with settlements,” he said.

The Palestinians are seeking to raise their U.N. status from an “entity” to a nonmember observer state, making it equal to the Vatican.

They say that such an upgraded status would represent U.N. acknowledgment of Palestine as an independent nation.


Hollande approves envoy from Syrian opposition

PARIS — President Francois Hollande and the new Syrian opposition leader have announced plans to install a new ambassador to represent war-torn Syria in France.

The move came after talks Saturday at the presidential palace in Paris between Mr. Hollande and Moaz al-Khatib, head of the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition. France is the only Western country to have formally recognized the group as the representative of the Syrian people.

The new ambassador is Mounzir Makhous, an academic.


Parliament approves smaller, 10-member Cabinet

MOGADISHU — Somalia’s parliament has approved a smaller, 10-member Cabinet in a vote that serves as an important victory for the country’s new prime minister.

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