Arab League to seek full UN membership for Palestinians

Move is in addition to seeking recognition of Palestinian state with e. Jerusalem as its capital, draft statement says; no timeline for approaching UN indicated after Arab League meeting.

July 14, 2011 15:27
2 minute read.
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Palestinian Flag 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

RAMALLAH - The Arab League will ask the United Nations to upgrade the Palestinians to full member status, a draft statement from a league meeting in Qatar said on Thursday.

"It was decided to go to the United Nations to request the recognition of the state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital and to move ahead and request a full membership," said the communique, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

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The statement did not provide a timeline, indicating the application would be made in time for the UN assembly in September. A Palestinian delegate said the Arab League had appointed a committee to determine dates.

Full member status would require approval in the Security Council, where the United States had said it would veto any such resolution.

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The Palestinians, who currently hold UN "observer" status, had previously pledged to seek UN endorsement in September for their claim of sovereignty in the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The move has gained momentum with the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The Arab League formally backed this plan in May.

But in the face of opposition in Jerusalem and a number of world powers who say only negotiations can solve the conflict, the Palestinians had previously signaled they might opt for a more limited upgrade to "non-member state" status, which requires only General Assembly approval.

Officials in Jerusalem had no immediate comment on Thursday's Arab League decision.

Palestinian analyst Talal Okal said the Arab League and Palestinians are aware of the obstacles they face, including a US veto, but have chosen to push forward because, with peace talks frozen, they see no other diplomatic solution.

"The Arab consensus means that there is disappointment over the American position, that the negotiations have reached a dead end and that we have entered a stage of political battle," Okal said.

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