Palestinians to give hero's welcome to Abbas

September 25, 2011 - 7:05 AM
APTOPIX UN Mideast

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds a letter requesting recognition of Palestine as a state as he addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 at UN Headquarters. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Thousands of Palestinians have gathered in the West Bank town of Ramallah to give a hero's welcome to Mahmoud Abbas after his appeal for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations.

The Palestinian president was expected to address the crowd later on Sunday.

Abbas is returning from New York, where he asked the U.N. Security Council on Friday to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinian was widely seen as a dour bureaucrat but his popularity skyrocketed since the speech, in which he defied Israeli and U.S. calls to give up the U.N. bid and instead resume peace talks.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians watched the speech on large screens set up in town squares across the West Bank.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's foreign minister says his government should accept an international proposal for restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The international Quartet of Mideast mediators said over the weekend the two sides should return to negotiations within a month and commit to reaching a deal by the end of 2012.

The statement came shortly after the Palestinians asked the U.N. to recognize their independence in the absence of a peace agreement.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday that Israel should accept the Quartet's proposal because it has no preconditions. The Palestinians say talks can take place only if they include an Israelis settlement freeze.

Israel's Cabinet is expected to make a final decision on the Quartet proposal in the coming days.