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Thousands In Ramallah Welcome Abbas After Historic UN Trip

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas waves to thousands of cheering Palestinians as they welcome their president at his Ramallah headquarters
Thousands of Palestinians have welcomed home President Mahmud Abbas following his return from the United Nations, where he had submitted a historic bid for Palestinian statehood.

Crowds waved Palestinian flags and cheered as 76-year-old Abbas arrived outside his presidential headquarters in Ramallah on September 25

Abbas, who formally requested full UN membership September 23 at the General Assembly, told the crowd that the bid marked the beginning of what he called the "Palestinian Spring," a reference to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere.

Earlier today, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there would be "tough repercussions" if the United Nations approves the Palestinian application.

The statement came a day after Egypt and Spain voiced support for the Palestinian bid at the General Assembly.

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez maintained that a two-state solution and peaceful negotiations were the best alternative for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

"Effective, sustainable peace can only be achieved through negotiations between the parties," she said. "Spain believes that the Palestinians could find in this new status a stimulus for the prompt resumption of negotiations."

The UN Security Council is due to meet September 26 to discuss the application.

The United States, a Security Council permanent member, has threatened to veto the motion. But the bid can still win more limited approval in the General Assembly, where any vote can pass by a simple majority.

Meanwhile, the Quartet of Middle East power brokers -- made up of the U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the UN -- proposed a new plan on September 23, urging Israel and the Palestinians to meet within a month and set a new agenda for peace talks.

Speaking in Ramallah on September 25, Abbas said there would be no talks without a "complete halt" to Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

compiled from agency reports