US ready to fight Palestinian UN bid

Updated: 2011-09-15 07:47

(China Daily)

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WASHINGTON - The United States has decided to fight to the bitter end to convince the Palestinians to abandon their bid for UN membership, despite the rather small chance that the battle will succeed.

"We want to leave no stone unturned in our effort to get these parties back to the table," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday as two US envoys headed to the Middle East for talks with Israel and the Palestinians.

David Hale, a special US envoy for the Middle East, and White House aide Dennis Ross are to hold talks on Wednesday and Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

Their previous trip, just last week, yielded no results.

The new General Assembly President, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, said on Tuesday that he has received no request to date from the Palestinian representation at the UN, indicating whether they plan to seek statehood status in the world organization.

"To be frank with you I still didn't receive any request about this issue," Al-Nasser said at a news conference after the opening of the 66th General Assembly session.

Palestine is said to be seeking to be upgraded to statehood status or to the status of a non-state observer at the UN. Currently, Palestine is represented by a permanent observer mission, which leaves them with less diplomatic leverage.

The leaders of Palestine can achieve UN statehood status through a Security Council and a General Assembly vote.

"Of course it's up to the Palestinians what they want," said Al-Nasser. "There are two ways and everybody knows: Security Council or General Assembly. So I think we'll wait and see what's going to happen."

Al-Nasser reminded reporters that the Palestinian leadership is still engaged in discussions in Egypt about the statehood bid.

For weeks, Washington has deployed its entire diplomatic arsenal to try to persuade the Palestinians not to submit a formal request to become the 194th member of the United Nations, in the face of US and Israeli opposition.

The United States has repeatedly said that only direct talks between the two sides can lead to genuine Palestinian statehood, and the UN bid - expected on Sept 20 - will only raise tensions.

This week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and former British leader Tony Blair, who has been the special envoy of the so-called Middle East Quartet - the United States, Russia, United Nations and the EU - since 2007.

Clinton is due to speak with Abbas again before week's end.

"The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties, and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York," she said on Tuesday. "We are redoubling our efforts, not only with both sides but with a broad cross-section of the international community, to create a sustainable platform for negotiations."

Direct negotiations have been stalled for nearly a year. The Palestinians have vowed to not resume talks while Israel builds in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank.


(China Daily 09/15/2011 page12)