Israel warns against Palestinian statehood bid 29Mar11 March 30, 2011

Ma’an  News Agency -  29 March 2011

Israel’s foreign ministry has told its envoys to warn UN members that the Palestinians could face retaliatory steps if they unilaterally declare independence, the Haaretz newspaper said on Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted unnamed ministry officials as saying Director General Rafael Barak sent classified cables to more than 30 embassies last week directing them to lodge protests against Palestinian efforts to gain recognition of statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The embassies were those in the 15 member states of the UN Security Council and in key European capitals, Haaretz said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor would not comment directly on the Haaretz report, although he hinted that Israel could reciprocate with its own unspecified unilateral action.

“We are deeply disappointed by the deliberate choice of the Palestinian Authority to abandon negotiations,” Palmor said. “We think that taking the route of unilateral measures is a very dangerous mistake because it is not a one-way street.”

The paper did not specify what measures Israel might take, but National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau has said the proper response would be to annex land in the occupied West Bank.

But public radio quoted officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as saying he was “unaware” of any annexation plan.

On March 20, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP the Palestinians were planning to ask the UN to recognize their state within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

No date has been set for that bid, but it is widely expected to take place in September.

Israel is fiercely opposed to such a move, arguing that negotiations are the only way to end the conflict and establish a Palestinian state.

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