Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas officially submitted his bid for a Palestinian state with full membership at the United Nations to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon on Friday afternoon. Abbas submitted the bid to Ban Ki-Moon in his office at the UN in an envelope with the Palestinian state slogan printed on it. According to reporters from Al-Jazeera Television, Ki-Moon opened the envelope and took a quick look at it.

“Palestinians will be continuing the nonviolent and popular resistance against the Israeli Occupation”, Abbas said in his speech to the UN General Assembly Friday evening, warning that, “The construction of Israeli settlements undermines the two-state solution and the existence of the Palestinian Authority’ and saying, “the continuation of Israeli settlement activities threatens the existence of the Palestinian Authority.”

The Palestinian President stated that Israel had pushed all peace efforts against a wall, saying that Israel’s actions had provided the reason for the Palestinian-UN membership bid.

Abbas further expressed that he is ready to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks in accordance with international signed agreements, and the end of Israeli settlement expansion and other violations of signed agreements.

In a quick response, Israel expressed “regret” regarding the Palestinian request for statehood and UN membership.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman, Gedi Hmrling, said that Israel feels “sorry” about the Palestinian move in the UN, adding that the only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions.

As the time approached for the submission of the Palestinian bid for UN membership, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in all major cities of the West Bank, waiting for the Palestinian speech at the UN.

In the central squares of Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem and other cities, thousands of Palestinians crowded and waved the Palestinian flag, while large LCD screens were installed in the streets to broadcast the Palestinian President’s speech on live stream.

Earlier Friday, Hamas Prime Minister, Ismael Haniyyeh, confirmed that Hamas does not approve of the Palestinian bid for statehood, stating that, “The Palestinian state cannot be established through the UN Resolutions.”

“The Palestinian state should be sovereign, not created at the expense of the Palestinians unalienable rights — at the top of which is the Palestinian refugees’ right of return,” he told reporters after the Friday Midday prayer in the city of Gaza.

“States are not established by international resolutions and initiatives…States are freed by their people, and establish their existence through resistance, not through compromises and political blackmail that undermine Palestinian dignity.”

In addition, Haniyyeh condemned the US and European stance regarding establishing an independent Palestinian state, accusing them of bias in favor of Israel.

He also denounced the initiative of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to establish Palestine as having “observer” status at the UN General Assembly, as an interim stage to statehood, saying that ‘this move comes at the expense of Palestinian rights.”

“The only response to the failure of peace talks with Israel is that Palestinians should agree on a national strategy based on resistance, the Palestinian core demands and a diplomatic and political coalition based on the Palestinian core demands ” he said.

Haniyyeh further called on the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, “to launch a strategic dialogue involving all Palestinian parties to agree on a national strategy “instead of hiding behind a mirage.”