Mansour: US trying to stall UN bid

Truth does not matter for “Israel”. Buttons Do. To mute.

Maan News Agency | October 20, 2011

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The UN membership bid is likely to come to a head on or around Nov. 11, when Security Council ambassadors plan a final meeting to decide their response, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The date represents a delay in dealing with the application, submitted by President Mahmoud Abbas on Sept. 23, amid hopes that indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks scheduled for next week could off the ground.

Riyad Mansour, the PLO ambassador at the UN, said Wednesday the United States was deliberately trying to stall the bid: “Even though we meet all the conditions of the application, America wants to discuss each point separately to gain more time,” he told Ma’an by phone from New York.

The fourth and most recent meeting was held days ago where ambassadors discussed the application for a Palestinian state but there was no agreement amongst the members, he said.

Mansour said the US decided to drag out talks on the “is Palestine a state” condition until the end as they had differences about the item, and they insist on establishing a state only through negotiations.

Under UN rules for applications, council diplomats are currently discussing technical issues of whether Palestine is a state, is “peace-loving,” and willing to fulfill the obligations of the UN charter — all requirements for membership. But members are expected ultimately to vote on political grounds.

The Russians, however, are to offer a proposal to sway the others, Mansour said. The PLO wanted a vote in October but will wait until the November vote in order to give the proposal time, he said.

Their proposal is expected to be presented in two meetings over the next two weeks and finally on Nov. 11. That final meeting could result in a vote by the divided council, diplomats said.

The United States, which supports its ally Israel in strongly opposing the membership bid, is considered certain to veto it but the PLO may seek a vote anyway if it can show majority support in the council.

The PLO has long held the status of an “observer entity” at the United Nations, but that does not allow it to vote. It says Palestine has now acquired the effective attributes of a state and merits the full UN membership that Israel has.

Membership is formally approved by the 193-nation General Assembly but that requires a Security Council recommendation.

“The 11th (of November) will probably be the end of the Security Council consideration process, one way or the other,” a senior council diplomat said following a meeting of envoys on Tuesday that agreed to a timetable. “If the Palestinians want a vote, there will be a vote.”

Such a request would be channeled through Lebanon, the sole Arab state currently on the 15-nation council.

Asked if changes to the membership on the Security Council would alter his plans, Mansour said the Palestinians applied 30 days ago and expect to have completed their plans by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, diplomats said that while indications so far were that the PLO would push for a vote at the UN next month, that could change if prospects improve for peace negotiations.

International mediators will meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Oct. 26 in Jerusalem to try to revive direct peace talks that ended more than a year ago.

“If they were to make progress, and there were to be further meetings over the following few days, then obviously that could affect the Security Council timetable,” said the senior diplomat, who asked not to be identified.

Many analysts, however, think a breakthrough is unlikely, with the PLO continuing to reject direct talks unless Israel halts settlement activities in the West Bank and Israel refusing to do so.

While the application looks certain to fail in the council, Abbas has made a major effort to attract nine votes in support — which would oblige the US to use its veto and be seen as a moral victory. To pass, council resolutions need nine votes and no vetoes.

Diplomats currently expect eight council members to back Palestine and six to vote against or abstain. There is uncertainty over Bosnia, the three members of whose collective presidency — Muslim, Serb and Croat — disagree over which way to vote, diplomats say.

If the application fails in the council, the PLO could ask the General Assembly to upgrade its status to “nonmember state” observer, which would not require council endorsement.

That would imply UN recognition of statehood and could help the PLO join international bodies.

In 10 days, according to Mansour, Palestine would become a member of UNESCO.

UNESCO will meet in Paris in under two weeks and the Palestinian side has the support of more than two-thirds of the membership, making it an easy decision.

After UNESCO comes the World Health Organization, he added.

Reuters contributed to this report.


Source and more at Maan News Agency


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