The Prime Minister’s Office warned Thursday that a Palestinian unilateral
statehood bid at the UN, along with attempts to set the territorial boundaries
of the conflict through a General Assembly resolution, would be a “mistake” and
“a blow to the peace process.”
“We hope this does not happen,” said Mark
Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
committed themselves to resolving all outstanding issues in negotiations, and
such a unilateral action would be viewed as a violation.”
came in response to Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat’s
statement that the PA plans to ask the UN to set territorial terms for a
negotiated two-state solution along the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as
Erekat spoke with reporters in his Jericho office, in
advance of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech on September 27 at the opening
session of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, which began this week in
The Palestinians plan to ask the UN’s 193 nations to upgrade
their status from observer to non-member state – a move that increases their
rights before the international body. He did not set a date for submission of
The PA, Erekat said, hopes to garner the support of 150
to 170 UN nations for their proposal.
Among those who spoke out this week
against Palestinian unilateral steps at the UN was its Secretary-General Ban
At a Wednesday press conference in New York, Ban said he
supported the Palestinian right to statehood, but urged them to achieve it
through a negotiated settlement.
“The aspiration of the Palestinian
people to join the United Nations has been a long aspiration, and it has been
long overdue,” he said.
“At the same time, I believe that all these
processes should come out as a result of a negotiated settlement of the Middle
East peace process, particularly the two-state formula, where Israelis and
Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.”
that given Israel’s insistence on clinging to the status quo, the Palestinians
had no choice but to pursue this path.
“The national interest of
Palestinians leaves us with no choice but to take Palestine to the UN as a
non-member state,” Erekat said. He argued that such a move would help rekindle
the peace process, which has largely been at a standstill for over three
The Palestinians have refused to hold direct talks with Israel
until it freezes West Bank settlements and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
Israel has refused to cede to that demand and has insisted that direct talks be held without
Regev said it was “the ultimate in disingenuous behavior”
for the PA to go to the UN with a unilateral statehood bid, claiming it was a
necessary step because the peace process was not moving, when “they are
responsible for the fact that the process has not moved ahead more
Passage of a General Assembly resolution establishing
Palestine as a non-member state could be considered a de facto recognition of
statehood. It cannot be vetoed. Only the 15 member states on the UN Security
Council can grant membership rights and full nation status.
In the past
the US has pledged to veto the Palestinians’ bid for unilateral statehood at the
Security Council. The issue became moot last year when the Palestinians failed
to gain the necessary support for that statehood bid from nine of the 15
Security Council members.
Erekat on Thursday said that the Palestinian
membership bid still stands before the Security Council, but at present they
still lack those nine votes.
“Recognition of the state of Palestine does
not require the UN. It is the sovereign decision of nations [based on] their
sovereign discretion,” Erekat said.
Still, the Palestinians plan to use
the forum of the General Assembly to shore up both international recognition of
statehood and world support for a two-state solution along pre- 1967 lines,
“The occupied territories are not disputed territories,” he
There is wide consensus among the nations of the world that the
border of both states is at the pre-1967 lines, Erekat said.
Palestinians gain recognition as a non-member state, Israel can not argue that
these are disputed territories,” he said. Once Abbas delivers his address, the
Palestinians plan to begin geopolitical discussions with UN nations to solicit
support for their resolution for nonmember state status, Erekat said.
want Palestine back on the map with the ’67 line and east Jerusalem as its
capital,” Erekat said.
Already on Thursday morning, Erekat said, he had
met with EU representatives in the region on this issue.
He added that he
hoped as many EU countries as possible would support them, as well as the US and
“This step aims to preserve the two-state solution,” he
said. “I do not see why people who stand for the two-state solution should fight
us,” Erekat said.
He rejected any attempts to characterize their efforts
at the UN as unilateral steps.
“We never said our right to
self-determination is subject to negotiation,” he said. When it comes to a
two-state solution, he said, the PA is focusing its efforts on the UN, as the
first and best step.
Once Palestine is recognized as a non-member state,
he said, the rest of the process will fall into place and “the terms of
reference for the negotiations will change.”
Once there is global
acceptance through the UN General Assembly of a two-state solution along the
pre-1967 lines, negotiations with Israel can center on staged steps for
withdrawal, Erekat said.
“The PA was born out of a contract between the
PLO and Israel to deliver Palestinians from occupation to independence. It can
not have any other role.”
Also on Jericho on Thursday, Erekat spoke out
about comments US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a recently leaked video.
exporting fear and doom and gloom,” with his comments that the Palestinians are
not interested in peace,” he said. “A presidential candidate must export hope...
Those who believe in democracy and peace must redouble their
When leaders export fear, Erekat said, “they are announcing
that the extremists are victorious.
No one stands for peace more than the
Palestinians,” he said. “No one will lose more from the absence of peace than
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