Palestinians to seek UN observer status

The Palestinian Authority said on Saturday it is undertaking legal procedures to put the Palestinian request for observer status in the UN General Assembly to a vote.

Presidency Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh told local Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam that
the decision to go to the General Assembly this month has the support of Palestinians and Arabs, and that the draft resolution has been distributed to member states.

Abu Rudeineh said November will be a crossroads for Palestinians, saying, “We are going to the UN and we will obtain the status of an observer state and the Palestinian question will enter into a new stage with new challenges.”

He added that after obtaining observer status, the Palestinian people would be ready for negotiations regarding all critical issues, including the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.

“Either we have an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, or there will be instability in the Middle East."

Frustrated that their bid for full UN membership last year failed amid US opposition in the UN Security Council, Palestinians launched their watered-down bid for recognition as an "observer state," the same status given to the Vatican.

Israel and the United States oppose the move by the Palestinians and have called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return to peace talks that collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Asked about the impacts of Barack Obama's reelection on the Palestinian issue, Abu Rudeineh said, "The US must know that without a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, there will be no security or stability in the region."

Local Palestinian papers published the draft request for membership, which will be put to a vote. The draft, which has eight articles, says that its request for observer status should not have any negative repercussion on the rights and privileges that the authority has acquired before.

Emphasizing the establishment of the Palestinian state within 1967 borders, the resolution would have UN member states express "the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process."

Palestinian officials said last month they can count on around 115 "yes" votes in the General Assembly, mostly from Arab, African, Latin American and Asian states, and expect around 22 "no" votes, led by the United States, as well as 56 abstentions.

UN diplomats said no date for a vote has been set. Several Western diplomats said US and European officials are lobbying the Palestinians to persuade them to delay the move to allow newly re-elected US President Barack Obama time to try to restart moribund Middle East peace talks.

An Israeli official said earlier this week that if the Palestinians push on with the UN bid, Israel may cancel the Paris Protocol, a key economic accord it maintains with the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

The United States has also suggested that funding for the Palestinians –– and possibly some funding for the United Nations –– could be at risk if the Palestinians seek a UN upgrade.

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