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Most UN members likely to back statehood bid

Palestinians counting on the support of around 140 countries when the General Assembly meets later this month

A chair commissioned by a Palestinian NGO rallying support for the full UN membership campaign
Image Credit: EPA
A chair commissioned by a Palestinian NGO rallying support for the full UN membership campaign sits next to the grave of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah yesterday. The chair will be brought to New York and placed in front of the UN for the vote on a Palestinian state.
Gulf News

Ramallah: Around 140 countries are likely to support a Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations General Assembly later this month, Palestinian negotiator Dr Nabeel Sh'aath said.

"Many Palestinian leaders and officials went on separate tours and visits to convince the world's countries to recognise the Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967," said Sha'ath, a senior official in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction.

His remarks in Ramallah Monday were broadcast on Palestinian television.

Palestinians will not fear the threats of possible sanctions as they are fully determined to gain international recognition for their state, he said.

Addressing a press conference held on Sunday at the premises of the Fatah International Relations Commission, Sha'ath said that Palestinians would not pay attention to the threats.

"We do not care for the threats which are illegal and illegitimate in the first place and directly violate international law," he said.

"We are receiving threats — that is right — and that is only because we are approaching the world and the international community. The UN bid is not a unilateral action and the threats are not justified," he said.

"Those who are waving with sanctions [in hopes of suspending] our UN bid will use this same tactic to prevent us in other issues. We do not care for threats," Sha'ath said.

"We will not bow [to] any kind of pressure which asks us to change our trend where the Palestinian leadership is fully determined to gain statehood recognition," he said.

"We urge and demand [that the] international community... recognise us. It is shameful to punish a nation [which] is seeking [its] basic rights. This does not contradict, in any way, [the] negotiations. Statehood recognition does not mean military confrontation," he said.

"It will be extremely difficult for Israel to justify to its own people and the entire world [the need] to wage a war against us only because we are approaching the international community seeking our basic rights," he added.

"Israel will be held fully responsible internationally should it go for violence," he stressed.

"The Palestinians will repeatedly knock the doors of the UN Security Council to gain full UN membership. Israeli is now fully aware that the Palestinians are moving in a positive direction and within an upward trend and concluded that it is extremely difficult for Israel to stand in the face of the Palestinians," he said.

European support

Sha'ath said Palestinians were hoping Europe would support their UN bid, saying that EU foreign policy chief Catharine Ashton would be visiting the region in a few days to update the Palestinian leadership on the latest developments relating to the EU's stand on the Palestinianian bid.

Sha'ath highlighted Palestinian concerns that the United States could veto their full-membership request at the UN Security Council.

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the Palestinian people in a few days, putting them in the picture and presenting them with the details of the UN bid.

"Once we are done with the UN bid, we will immediately work on setting the Palestinian unity government and make all the necessary preparations for presidential and parliamentary elections," he said.

Meanwhile, Palestinians will not consider any initiative aimed at averting their UN bid to gain statehood recognition and have demanded real guarantees from Israelis for the successful resumption of peace talks.

The Palestinian leadership announced that following their UN bid, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Palestinian Territories will not be dissolved and sealed off.

"This is an empty threat and they will not be able to do it," Saleh Ra'afat, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), told Gulf News.

He said that the decision was final and fully backed by Arab nations.

"Even with a veto, we will return to the UN Security Council seeking full membership several times [until] we get our state's full recognition," he said.

Tayseer Khalid, a member of the PLO Executive Committee told Gulf News that the Palestinian leadership wants real guarantees from the Israelis themselves, not the Americans.

"Israel is occupying the land and it should provide guarantees. We have received guarantees from the US administration for the resumption of the peace talks," he said. "The US has been manoeuvring and never really pressed Israel to halt the Israeli colonial activities in Palestinian territories," he said.

"Palestinians have nothing to lose and they will be heading to the UN in a non-reversible move," he said. "Palestinians have no interest in dropping the UN move. The UN bid is a sovereign right for the Palestinian people and no body on the earth can prevent them from enjoying that right," he said.