Palestinians set to submit UN bid 24Sep11 September 24, 2011

Aljazeera  -  23 September 2011

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to submit a bid to the United Nations to admit Palestine as a member state despite US threats to veto the move.

The US administration, which has led last-minute behind-the-scenes wrangling to try to divert the Palestinian ambition, seemed resigned to the fact that Abbas would go ahead with the application as planned on Friday.

“I think it is important to note that regardless of what happens tomorrow in the United Nations, we remain focused on the day after,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday.

She told reporters that she “was encouraged to hear from both the leadership of the Palestinians and the Israeli government their continuing commitment to direct negotiations”.

And she added: “I remain committed to working with the parties to obtain the goal that the United States supports, that is a two-state solution… we will leave… no effort or stone unturned in our commitment to achieving that.”

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hannah, reporting from the UN, said that according to the Palestinian delegation, 129 countries had recognised Palestine already.

“This means it does have a two-third majority in the General Assembly, should it choose to go for non-member status in that particular body,” our correspondent said.

“At this stage though, the Palestinians will be going to the UN Security Council where the Palestinian president will hand over the application to the UN secretary general.”

French proposal dismissed

Israel on Friday rejected a proposal by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to upgrade the Palestinians’ UN status and admit them as a non-member state, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

“It looks like a good idea but it’s not because you can’t cut corners by giving the Palestinians a state, however you describe it, which does not come from an agreement with Israel,” he said.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc also dismissed the French proposal, but for different reasons.

“It seems that certain countries have not changed their ideas, because of the influence of Israel,” Arinc told reporters in Brussels.

“What Sarkozy said regarding Palestine is comparable to what he has said regarding Turkey, when he proposed that it not be a full member of the European Union,” he added.

France and Germany proposed that Turkey have an “alternative partnership” with the European Union, something Ankara has always rejected in the course of its negotiations for full membership.

Of the Palestinians bid to the United Nations Security Council for full UN membership, Arinc said: “I hope that the proposal for Palestine to become a full member will be accepted by the Council.”

Palestinian demonstrations

There was anger in the Palestinian territories against Wednesday’s UN address by US President Barack Obama in which he insisted the only way to achieve the Palestinian dream of statehood was through negotiations.

More than 1,000 Palestinians carrying signs denouncing Obama gathered outside Abbas’s West Bank headquarters before marching into the city centre shouting: “It’s shameful for America to support the occupation.”

In Gaza City, around 300 women held a protest outside the UN headquarters, shouting anti-Obama slogans.

“Our people demonstrated yesterday and today to express their feeling that (Obama’s) speech does not meet Palestinian hopes for the freedom and independence that the US administration is calling for all people, except the Palestinians,” said top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.

“Despite this unfair position and all the pressure, President Abbas will submit tomorrow (Friday) a request to admit the state of Palestine at the UN via the Security Council,” Erakat said.

Abbas will address the UN General Assembly on Friday and then leave swiftly for the Palestinian territories for consultations on the next step forward.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called on Abbas to hold talks in New York, will also address the UN General Assembly on Friday.

The request for UN member state status will then go before the UN Security Council where the Palestinians have to win nine of the 15 member votes – although the United States has already said it would impose its veto.

Abbas’s diplomatic advisor Majdi al-Khaldi said the Palestinians believed they would get the votes needed, even though he believed some countries were under pressure.

“Three of the members of the Security Council are under pressure from the Americans,” he said, naming Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that the Palestinians should be temporarily granted non-member observer state status and set out a timetable for new negotiations with the aim of a deal within a year.

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