UN

Palestinians mobilizing support for statehood

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Posted: Jun 01, 2011 7:13 PM
Palestinians mobilizing support for statehood

The Palestinians hope to mobilize countries, political leaders and millions of supporters to back their demand for recognition as an independent state in September, the Palestinian's top U.N. diplomat said Wednesday.

Riyad Mansour told a group of reporters Wednesday that the Palestinian people are ready to take to the streets peacefully as they did in 1987, and follow in the footsteps of Tunisians and Egyptians earlier this year, to demand an end to Israel's occupation and independence.

The United States, Israel's ally, is the main stumbling block to U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state because of its veto power on the Security Council. The 15-member council must recommend statehood, and only then can the 192-member General Assembly vote on membership, which must be approved by a two-thirds majority.

Mansour indicated that a key Palestinian goal in the coming months is to increase the number of states recognizing Palestine from 112 at present to 130 or 140, more than the two-thirds required, and to increase pressure on President Barack Obama's administration.

"I need to mobilize the largest number of forces, whether in the ground or in the political front or in the recognition, where I make it possible to prevail on our agenda in September," Mansour said. "This battle is not a battle of a few diplomats and a few politicians. This is a battle of the entire Palestinian people."

He said the readiness of the Palestinian people "is extremely high _ it's exactly like the Egyptians, the Tunisians and other Arabs who are taking their cause in their hands."

Mansour wouldn't say exactly what would happen between now and September in the Palestinian territories, but he indicated that there could be protests that spread elsewhere.

"If hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are in the streets for weeks and weeks before D-day in September ... supported by millions of Arabs in the Arab capitals and cities ... what would be the argument of President Barack Obama in trying really to disregard this wish?" he asked.

Mansour said if diplomacy and peaceful protests aren't sufficient, "we have other tactics that we can use in order to flex additional muscles in order to make it very, very difficult for anyone to obstruct our effort." But he refused to elaborate on what those tactics might be.

After two decades of on-and-off Israeli-Palestinian talks that have produced few results, the frustrated Palestinians have set September as their goal for statehood.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he prefers to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem _ territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 Mideast war _ through negotiations. But he said he is being pushed into unilateral steps by Israel's refusal to engage in talks on terms backed by the international community.

Obama called for a peace settlement by September.

Mansour said every country that recognizes the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders is "investing in peace" and expediting the date when two independent states, Israel and Palestine, can live side by side in peace.

He also noted that Israel did not negotiate its independence in 1948 and the United States didn't negotiate its independence in 1776.

"Our independence is a natural right of the Palestinian people alone ... as part of our right of self-determination," Mansour said. "We will never negotiate our independence with anyone, nor will we ask for permission from anyone to be independent."


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