His request follows decades of violence, stalled two-state talks and months of inactivity in peace talks. The move is expected to fail to gather enough support, or be vetoed by the United States in the U.N. Security Council.
It is also expected to attract far more sympathy among the broader U.N. General Assembly, which could confer "non-member state" status on Palestine, giving it access to the International Criminal Court.
Abbas' plea echoed global sentiment when he said: "Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equity between two neighboring states — Palestine and Israel — instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other."
But while he was right to call for a halt to settlement building in the West Bank, he glossed over decades of missed and intentionally wasted opportunities and the horrific role his people have played in delaying a lasting peace.
The solution, really, is not new or novel: The violence must end. The settlements must stop (and diminish). There must be two states.
But Abbas' effort, an attempt without hope of creating a state, made to embarrass Israel internationally, was not the right way forward.
From here, President Barack Obama must be forceful. He must put a concrete plan and map on the table and push hard on both sides to agree to what both know must happen. But this week, while Abbas' stated goals were correct, his tactics were little beyond insult.