Palestinians set on U.N. statehood bid in September

Reuters News
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Posted: May 21, 2011 6:23 AM
Palestinians set on U.N. statehood bid in September

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinians will seek recognition as a United Nations member-state in September given the deadlock in U.S.-brokered peacemaking with Israel, a senior Palestinian official said on Saturday.

Nabil Shaath urged President Barack Obama, who on Thursday criticized the planned move at the U.N. general assembly, to join other countries in endorsing a Palestinian state taking in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Another Palestinian official, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said the drive to win statehood status unilaterally could be forestalled should Israel accept the demand to extend a freeze on its settlement of the West Bank so that negotiations can resume.

But no such rapprochement looked imminent after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hosted in Washington on Friday, sparred with Obama over a new American call for the future Palestinian state to run along the lines of the West Bank boundary before Israel captured it in the 1967 war.

"Of course we will go to the United Nations," Shaath, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters.

"Especially after Netanyahu used the old pretext that he needs "defensible borders' to keep stealing our land, control the Jordan Valley and create demographic facts on the ground." Diplomats see majority support for the Palestinians in the U.N. General Assembly. But the statehood vote would have first to be approved in the Security Council, where the United States -- which insists on a negotiated Middle East peace -- has a veto.

"We urge President Obama to recognize the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders," Shaath said. "We are going to the United Nations in September, using all non-violent means." (Reporting by Mohammed Assadi)