Palestinian statehood bid ‘papers ready’
The Palestinians will not be deterred from seeking UN membership, senior officials say in response to a report that the the US is trying to head off their bid.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the US has launched an attempt to persuade the Palestinians not to seek statehood at the annual UN General Assembly meeting beginning on September 20.
“When it comes to going to the United Nations, I think the train has left the station,” Muhammad Shtayyeh, a member of Fatah’s central committee who is overseeing the UN bid, said on Sunday.
“We’re already on the way to New York. We are very ready for this. All our papers are ready.”
The New York Times, citing US officials and foreign diplomats, said the US has tried to restart peace talks with the Israelis in a bid to convince Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, to drop the bid.
The Obama administration has made it clear to Abbas that it will veto any request to the UN Security Council to make a Palestinian state a new member outright, the newspaper said.
But the US does not have enough support to block a vote to elevate the status of the Palestinians’ nonvoting observer “entity” to that of a nonvoting observer state, according to the newspaper report.
‘No chance for talks’
Palestinians expect “more than 150” of the 192 UN member countries to endorse full Palestinian membership.
But this would fall short of the number needed to ratify an application, which must be approved by the Security Council.
If approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly, it would allow the Palestinians for instance to gain full membership of UN agencies such as WHO, UNESCO or UNICEF.
The US argues that the Palestinians will only achieve meaningful statehood through a revival of direct peace talks with Israel.
Comment: The US never argued that “peace talks” would resolve the Sudan division and the south seeking independence. Nor did the U.S. argue that “peace talks” would ensure that Saddam Hussein and the Kuwaitis would be able to resolve their differences. So what is it about the Palestinians? Are they the Children of a Lesser God? Israel’s negotiations tactics are clear: build more settlements and negotiate grabbing more Palestinian lands!
The New York Times said the US was labouring to find language that would be sufficient to lure the Palestinians away from their bid, bring Israel to the negotiating table and be acceptable to the other members of the peacemaking Quartet – the EU, UN and Russia.
But Shtayyeh, the Fatah official, said the Palestinians had made every effort to negotiate.
“The only thing Israel wants to talk about is security, security and security,” he said. “There isn’t really any chance for negotiations with this current Israeli government.
He said that until now, the Palestinians had not received any serious offer from the international community.
“All these offers are to stop us from going to New York. They are not really about genuine peace,” he said.
In a related development, EU foreign ministers meeting in Poland have urged both Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct peace talks while offering to take a lead role in hammering out a solution acceptable to all sides.
Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said on Sunday the Palestinian proposal, to be formally detailed in the coming days by Abbas, could prove a failure for Israel, the Palestinians and the US.
Should the Palestinians receive widespread backing “Israel would be isolated”, the Palestinians “would face a poor tomorrow” after losing vital funding, and the US too will “face isolation”, he said.
Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said separately that it was key to “try to influence different parties to act constructively”. Germany opposes the Palestinian initiative.
Europe stands divided on the question, with the Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands also opposed but Spain pledging to vote in favour.
Despite the fast-approaching deadline, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, insisted that a return to the talks table remained a possibility.
“We believe that we need to have a negotiated settlement as quickly as possible and that anything that can help that process is good,” she said.