The Palestinians believe 12 EU countries could support a unilateral bid to upgrade their status at the UN to that of non-member state later this month.
“In internal discussions five nations have openly said they will support us,” a Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.
The official added that based on conversations, seven other European Union countries would also take this stand.
Although the EU would like to reach a common position among its 27 member states, this is unlikely to happen.
The Palestinians already have majority support for the resolution, which they intend to bring to the UN General Assembly. But they feel their efforts would carry more weight if European and other Western nations support them.
US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro told reporters last week that his country opposed the move. On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said these efforts would do little for the Palestinians.
“Action of this kind is not going to take them any closer to having what they really want and need, which is a functioning, independent state living at peace with Israel,” Nuland said.
She added that the US has been speaking with the Palestinian Authority about this constantly. “We’ve been making this case for a long time and will continue to do so,” she said.
Nabil Sha’ath, a top Fatah official, accused the US and Israel on Saturday of “threatening and blackmailing” the PA leadership over the statehood bid, saying Washington was threatening to cut off financial aid to the PA and to close the PLO office in the US capital, while Israel was talking about withholding tax revenues belonging to the Palestinians in the West Bank.
“These are illegal, unjust and immoral threats,” Sha’ath said in comments published by a Saudi newspaper.
“No country is entitled to deprive our people of its right to self-determination and the declaration of a state.”
On Friday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman arrived in Vienna, where he held meetings with Israeli ambassadors based in the city on how best to hammer home their message to European governments that the bid was harmful to the peace process.
Liberman planned to continue those meetings on Sunday.
Israel has urged the Palestinians to immediately resume negotiations rather than seek unilateral recognition at the UN.
On Saturday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that if the Palestinians pursued their UN bid, Israel would not continue to engage with them financially.
The PA push to upgrade its status will not afford it full UN membership. Only the Security Council can grant that. But the move could boost its rights at in the world body and possibly give it the ability to pursue Israel in the International Criminal Court.
On Saturday, the PA denied that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was considering postponing the UN move.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for Abbas, said the decision already had been taken by the Palestinian leadership and Arab countries, and pointed out that the Palestinians circulated a draft proposal of the bid over the weekend.
“The decision has been taken and there will be no backtracking on it,” Abu Rudaineh said. “We will go the UN to ask for a state within the [pre-]1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
He said the Palestinians would then be ready to resume peace talks with Israel.
“After obtaining the UN resolution, the Palestinian people would be ready for negotiations on final-status issues, including Jerusalem and the refugees,” he told the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper. “Either a Palestinian state is established within the [pre-]1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital or there will be instability in the Middle East.”
Abu Rudaineh’s comments came after unnamed Palestinian officials told a number of Arab media outlets last Friday that Abbas was considering delaying the statehood bid until January to give US President Barack Obama time to launch his second term in office.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also denied what he termed “rumors,” saying reports about a possible delay were “test balloons” launched by Israel against the PA leadership.
Erekat’s remarks came during separate meetings with the consuls-general of Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Britain.
Erekat urged the EU to vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians’ status at the UN to non-member state – a move, he added, that would constitute victory for peace, democracy, freedom and stability.
If approved at the UN, the Palestinian resolution would “accord to Palestine observer status status in the United Nations system, without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and practices.”
The draft says the PA is committed to the “two-state solution” and expresses the “urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues, namely the Palestine refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security, water and prisoners.”
According to the English language draft, the General Assembly would be asked to affirm a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines.
The text leaves room for modifications, noting that the final borders would be set through negotiations.
A letter, from the PA observer mission to the UN, that is attached to the draft asks UN members to support the “enhancement of the status of Palestine in the United Nations to be considered by the General Assembly at a date to be announced in the near future.”