Arabs to urge yes vote on Palestinian UN bid

Published today (updated) 11/08/2011 21:07

Palestinians carry their national flag towards Israel’s controversial separation near the West bank town of Tulkarem. [AFP/File Jaafar Ashtiyeh]
RAMALLAH (AFP) — A delegation of Arab foreign ministers will urge permanent members of the Security Council next week to vote for Palestinian UN membership, a top Palestinian official said Thursday.

Negotiator Saeb Erekat said the group would talk with representatives from the veto-wielding Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States in a bid to sway them in favor of the Palestinian request for membership.

“A delegation of Arab foreign ministers, headed by the foreign minister of Qatar … will visit the five permanent members at the end of next week to persuade them to vote for UN recognition and membership for the Palestinian state,” Erakat said.

The Palestinians have said they plan to approach the Security Council in September to seek membership for a Palestinian state on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, to include the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

But Washington has said it will vote against membership, and Britain and France have reacted to the bid with caution, suggesting they would prefer the Palestinians to return to peace talks than pursue UN membership.

Erekat said the Palestinians remain committed to the UN path, despite the opposition, emphasizing the position after Israel announced final approval on Thursday morning for 1,600 new settlement homes in east Jerusalem.

He urged the United States and President Barack Obama “to reconsider their position rejecting the Palestinian move to go to the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

“We call on him to support this approach because it is the only way to preserve the two-state solution,” he added.

Erekat also said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had spoken with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas recently about the bid and told him that the UN was ready to receive a membership request “any time from now until September 20.”

Abbas’s Fatah party leadership is scheduled to meet on Thursday and Friday of next week to finalize the time-line for submitting the UN membership bid, Erekat said.


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