PA leaders leave for NY ahead of UN bid

By
September 19, 2011 03:34

Abbas and the Palestinian delegates went via Amman, where they were seen off by Arab ambassadors to Jordan.

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations

PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday flew to New York at the head of a large delegation to ask for membership of a Palestinian state in the United Nations.

Abbas and the Palestinian delegates went via Amman, where they were seen off by Arab ambassadors to Jordan.

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The PA delegation consists of a number of top PLO and Fatah officials, including Nabil Sha’ath, Saeb Erekat, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Muhammad Shtayyeh and Azzam al- Ahmed. The Ma’an News Agency reported that MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who flew to New York on Sunday, is also part of the delegation. The Knesset member denied this was the case.

On the eve of the UN vote, chief PLO negotiator Erekat reassured Palestinians that the establishment of a state would not “cancel the right of return for Palestinian refugees” to their original homes inside Israel.

Erekat also stressed that the planned statehood bid would not affect the status of the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

“The request to the UN to accept Palestine as a full member does not cancel the PLO or the right of return,” Erekat told the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustour.

“Many are asking about the fate of the PLO and the right of return of Palestinian refugees to the 1948 territories once the UN approves the membership request,” Erekat said.

He said the PA leadership, in cooperation with the Arab League and Qatar, has sought legal advice from all around the world about these issues.

The application to the UN will be submitted by Abbas in his capacity as chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and president of Palestine, Erekat said.

“The PLO will remain the party in charge of negotiations over the final-status issues,” he said. The PA is an organ of the PLO.

According to Erekat, the statehood bid has at least six advantages: Palestine within the 1967 “borders” with Jerusalem as its capital would become a state under occupation by another member of the UN, and Israelis would no longer be able to say that these are disputed territories; the reference for the negotiations with Israel would focus only on a setting a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal; the Palestinian people alone would have the right to selfdetermination; UN conventions oblige all member states to help a country that is occupied by one of the members; and Palestine would have access to all UN bodies, such as the International Criminal Court that would change the status of the Palestinian prisoners in Israel to “prisoners of war.”

The conflict with Israel can’t end without the “right of return” for the refugees and the return of the Palestinian prisoners to their families and people, Erekat told Ad-Dustour.

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