The Palestinians are still hopeful that the United States won’t veto their bid
for unilateral statehood at the Security Council in September, PLO Executive
Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Sunday.
“We still believe there
can be a chance to get the US not to veto [such a resolution],” she told The
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“Otherwise,” she warned, “the US will isolate itself with
“We are still in discussion and dialogue [with countries on this
matter] including the US,” she said.
Ashrawi spoke both with the Post
reporters on Sunday, a day after Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad
al-Malki said that plans were underway for the Palestinians to apply for
membership status at the United Nations.
Such applications can only be
made through the UN Security Council, where the US is one of five countries out
of the 15-member body which can veto such a move. The US has already said that
it plans to oppose unilateral Palestinian moves at the United
Separately, the Palestinians are also considering asking the
General Assembly to upgrade their status from an observer mission to that of a
nonmember state, a move that would grant them statehood recognition.
are keeping all our options open,” said Ashrawi on Sunday.
She added that
the Palestinians were in dialogue with the US and other countries to solicit
support for their statehood bid.
Israel in turn has been actively
campaigning against those efforts. It has argued that statehood can only be
achieved through direct negotiation.
The Palestinians have refused to
hold direct talks with Israel until it halts settlement activity and Jewish
construction in east Jerusalem. Israel has refused to cede to such a
Israel has called on the Palestinians to negotiate and warned
that divorcing statehood from the peace process would only endanger a final
status agreement. Worse, it fears that the Palestinians would use the status of
statehood to increase their diplomatic attacks on Israel and further isolate it
in the international arena.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the
on Sunday he believed that the Palestinians sought statehood rather than
negotiations because it absolved them of the need to make the compromises
necessary in a peace deal.
“Peace would mean compromises and they have
not shown even in a modest way any willingness to compromise,” he
Israel, Ayalon said, has made many compromises including a 10-month
moratorium on new settlement construction as well as humanitarian and
Sitting in his office in the Foreign Ministry, Ayalon said what
many Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, have
already said: that when it comes to the UN General Assembly, the Palestinians
have an automatic majority.
“Our assumption is that they will push
through this resolution [a bid for statehood at the General Assembly],” he
Still, he has made many trips in the last few months outside of
Israel in hopes of swaying countries to oppose Palestinian unilateralism. On
Monday, Ayalon leaves for Hungary, and later this month he is heading to
“We know that we do not have the numbers [at the General
Assembly], because the Palestinians have the automatic majority, which consists
of Arab, Muslim, satellite and developing countries,” he said.
said Israel’s hope at the General Assembly is to sway a bloc of anywhere from 50
to 70 countries, including many Western countries such as the US, Canada and
Europe, to oppose Palestinian unilateralism.
“These are countries who we
believe will vote on the merit of the principle of the resolution and in the
interest of region and will not be a rubber stamp for the Palestinians,” Ayalon
He added that these are countries that understand that a unilateral
resolution for Palestinian statehood is a choice for conflict and friction and
that support of such a measure is harmful to any future negotiations.
Ashrawi said that a unilateral statehood bit at the UN was a “corrective”
measure to deal with all the flaws of an “endless prolonged peace process that
has lost its credibility.”
All that has happened during the peace process
is that Israel has been allowed to act with impunity, particularly with respect
to its continued settlement construction, she said.
“We do not want the
Palestinians to lose hope. We do not want there to be a break down or a break
out of violence.”
Ashrawi said she has been surprised by the Israeli
reaction and the hysteria with which it has assumed that unilateral Palestinian
statehood would have a negative impact or lead to bloodshed.
she said, that there has been a call for popular nonviolent support such as
marches in September when the UN General Assembly will meet.
be peaceful marches. We will not resort to violence.”
The point of
turning to the UN is to seek a nonviolent solution, she said.
adopting a positive and constructive legal approach by turning to the
international community and saying we are a part of you. Any solution has to be
based on international law,” she said, adding: “Our right to self-determination
is enshrined in the UN Charter.”
It would be “irresponsible” on the part
of the US to oppose their efforts, Ashrawi said. “Freedom and the right to self
determination is not subject to negotiation.”