Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas admitted over the weekend that his statehood bid had failed, but vowed to pursue efforts to seek membership of a Palestinian state in the UN Security Council.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Tunisia on Friday, Abbas also ruled out the possibility of dissolving the PA in response to the failure of the statehood bid.
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Abbas's remarks came shortly after a committee reviewing the statehood application submitted by Abbas in September failed to reach agreement on how the Security Council members should vote.
Abbas said he did not expect the statehood bid to succeed "this time." However, he stressed that the Palestinian leadership would continue its efforts to gain membership in the UN.
He said that the statehood bid did not contradict the peace process. "Even if we gain membership, we will go back to the negotiations because what is between us and Israel on the ground can't be solved in the UN, but at the negotiating table," Abbas explained.
The Palestinian application should not be seen as a challenge to the US because the PA has "cordial" relations with the Americans and is keen on keeping it that way, Abbas added, urging Washington to resume its mediation efforts between the PA and Israel.
He also voiced hope that the US Administration would change its policy regarding the Palestinian membership in the UN and UNESCO.
"We want coexistence with Israel on clear foundations," he said. "We want a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and a solution to the problem of the refugees."
Abbas denied that the Quartet members - the US, UN, EU and Russia - have been exerting pressure on the PA leadership to resume peace talks with Israel. He reiterated his support for the Quartet initiative that was announced on September 24 and which calls for the resumption of the peace process.
"It was a good statement and we are waiting to see it translated into deeds on the ground," the PA president said. "We support it especially because it calls for the resumption of the peace negotiations on the basis of clear terms of reference.
The statement proposed that the PA and Israel to hold a preparatory meeting within a month and commit to reaching an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but no longer that the end of 2012.
The two parties are expected to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and to have made substantial progress within six months.
The Quartet also called upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective.
Abbas also confirmed that he was planning to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal later this month to discuss ways of ending the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas. "Hamas is part of the Palestinian people and we should consult with it," he added.
Ghassan Shaka'ah, member of the PLO Executive Committee, emphasized on Saturday that the PA would pursue its efforts to gain membership in the UN despite its failure to secure the backing of nine members of the Security Council for the statehood bid.
"The membership of Palestine in the UN is an historic and legal right for our people," he said. "We will continue our efforts in the international arena to achieve this goal and persuade the countries that opposed the move to vote in the future in favor of turning Palestine into the 194th member of the UN."
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