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PA pushes for statehood, Israel plans response
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
06/11/2012
Arab League to appeal to EU representatives in favor of PA UN statehood bid; Israel seeks to recruit Western powers to stop the bid.
 
Arab League foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Cairo on November 12 with EU representatives in an effort to persuade them to vote in favor of the Palestinians’ unilateral bid to upgrade their United Nations status to non-member state.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened a ministerial meeting of the Octet – the group of ministers close to the prime minister – to discuss the Palestinian Authority’s UN bid ahead of a Friday meeting on the matter in Vienna between Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Israeli ambassadors stationed in Europe.

Israel is considering punitive measures against the PA. There is some speculation that Netanyahu has held off approving the Levy Report, which calls for transforming outposts into new settlements, so that he can use it as leverage to prevent the success of the PA’s UN bid. Since the Palestinians already have majority support at the General Assembly for the resolution, Israel is hoping that Western powers can sway them to drop the bid.

Although upgrading their status will not make them a member state, it will give them additional statehood rights, which may include the ability to prosecute Israelis at the International Criminal Court. It is also considered a de facto declaration of Palestinian statehood by the international community.

PA officials reiterated on Tuesday that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was determined to push forward with the bid, in spite of increased pressure and threats from the US and Israel. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the PA leadership would not “succumb” to pressure or retract its decision to pursue the statehood bid.

“We say to the countries that are trying to stop us that we don’t seek a confrontation with the US,” Erekat said.

“Nor do we seek to isolate Israel. Rather, we seek to isolate settlements and Israeli occupation and consolidate the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.”

The PA leadership is now hoping to win the full backing of the Arab League for the renewed statehood bid.

Earlier this week, Abbas met in Amman with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Araby and urged him to secure the support of the Arab countries for the bid.

Azzam Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that Liberman’s latest statements against the PA leadership would not stop the Palestinians from going to the UN.

“We are going to the UN regardless of the results and threats,” Ahmed told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency. “We have taken a decision and it’s a final one.”

The Fatah official claimed that the Israeli government was not interested in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

“They want to have [Palestinian] self-rule for ever,” he charged.

Also Tuesday, Abbas won the backing of his loyalists in Fatah for the statehood bid.

Fatah leaders who met in Ramallah said in a statement that “Zionist terror would not succeed in stealing our national rights, including the right of return, the right to self determination and the right to independence and sovereignty on our land.”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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