Arabs to push for Palestinian statehood bid

CAIRO Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:41pm EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab states will push for a fully-fledged Palestinian state at the United Nations next week, the Qatari prime minister said on Monday, despite a U.S. threat to block such a move.

Earlier on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is in Cairo for talks with officials at an Arab foreign ministers' meeting on the Palestinian U.N. bid, said the European Union has still not decided on a united position yet.

The Palestinians decided to seek United Nations recognition of statehood after years of negotiations with Israel failed to deliver the independent state they want to establish in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem -- areas occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.

The Palestinians currently hold U.N. "observer" status. Full member status would require approval in the Security Council, where Israel's ally the United States had said it would veto any such resolution.

"The Arabs had agreed to apply to the United Nations for a full-fledged Palestinian state with its capital East Jerusalem," Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, chairman of the follow-up committee on the Palestinian U.N. bid, said at the start of the meeting.

"At this meeting, we will look into the steps that has been taken to go to the United Nations," he said before a closed session began.

Diplomats have said it is not clear what the Palestinians will do when the U.N. General Assembly opens on September 19. They could seek lower status as a "non-member state," which would require a simple majority of the 193-nation Assembly.

Ashton, speaking after meeting Egypt's foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr in Cairo, said: "There is no resolution on the table yet, so there is no position."

"What we're very clear about from the European Union is that the way forward is negotiations," she said. "We want to see a just and fair settlement, we want to see the people of Palestine and the people of Israel living side by side in peace and security, and I will do everything I can to help achieve that."

Ashton left the meeting minutes after it began, saying that the EU believed that a Palestinian state should come through negotiations.

Palestinian officials say that the European Union was waiting to see the text of the resolution that the Palestinians will submit to the United Nations.

President Mahmoud Abbas, heading the Palestinian delegation to the meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, has been under U.S. pressure not to go ahead with the U.N. bid.

Before the meeting began, he met with the head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, to discuss the main elements of the Palestinian resolution, Egypt's state news agency MENA said. He also met separately with Ashton.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said for the first time last week that Washington would use its veto power in a Security Council vote for full recognition as a member state. Washington says statehood can only come via agreement with Israel.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is due to address the 22-nation Arab League on Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority was set up in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to administer Palestinian affairs in 1993.

Qatar, which won praise from the United States for its backing of Libyan rebels who toppled veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi, has taken a prominent role in organizing support for the Palestinian bid.

(Reporting by Ayman Samir and Seham Eloraby, Writing By Sami Aboudi and Yasmine Saleh)

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Comments (14)
As an American of Syrian Jewish parents I have long been interested in the quest for peace in Palestine/Israel. In this short space it is impossible to go into detail of my concerns abt America’s open bias toward Israel. That policy is costing America many friends.
As to Pres. Abbas’ Address to United Nations in the Palestians bid for statehood Sept. 20 I would like to see Abbas dedicate his address to the memory of U.N. Peace Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte who was murdered in cold blood by the Israeli Stern Gang because Israel dared not formally receive the U.N. mandated Palestine/Israel border.
Why is it that no one talks about that cowardly and despicable murder? Rose Lynn Mangan

Sep 12, 2011 8:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AKYork wrote:
How can the US possibly justify opposing (or worse, vetoing) Palestinian statehood? The US needs to think long and hard before it makes this mistake. Seriously, if the US opposes Palestinian statehood or vetoes it, anti-US sentiment throughout the world will rise significantly.

The US already pays a massive, MASSIVE price for its blanket support for Israel (including much of “the war on terror”). If Americans sometimes wonder why there’s so much anti-US sentiment in the world, just realize much of it stems from its blanket support for Israel – whatever it does – including flagrant violations of international law. I in no way dispute Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, but it has no right to invade every one of its neighbors, illegally occupy land, illegally build on occupied land, and the many other atrocities it commits. People throughout the world aren’t stupid – they can see the raw injustice Israel and its US backers perpetrate.

Recognition of Palestinian statehood is not a bargaining chip. Recognition of Palestinian statehood and a peace process are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, peace talks are more likely to succeed if there’s a level playing field. But there you have it, of course: Israel loves ‘process’. It can’t get enough of it and can string it out for decades so long as it never goes anywhere. Just peace negations should resolve around land-swaps of equal area based on the pre-1967 borders.

Sep 12, 2011 9:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
deegeejay wrote:
Well I’m a proud Tea Party supporter and I don’t see a reason not to support Palestinian statehood if the borders are reasonable and negotiable. I think the “agreement with Israel” can come afterward. It would be (yet another) good will gesture from Israel toward peace. I have no illusion the Arabs will stop acting out in Palestine but I believe it would be an enormous step in the right direction. I hope Israel will see wisdom in recognizing them.

Sep 12, 2011 9:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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