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(photo credit: BLOOMBERG)
At least 140 countries are expected to vote in favor of a Palestinian state at the United Nations on September 23, Nabil Sha’ath, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said on Sunday.
He said that Palestinian Authority officials were continuing their efforts to persuade more countries to support the statehood bid.
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At a press conference in Ramallah, Sha’ath, a former PA foreign minister, said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas would soon brief Fatah and PLO leaders on the ongoing efforts to secure the support of as many countries as possible for the statehood plan.
He said that Abbas would make it clear that the PA would seek full membership of a Palestinian state in the UN.
Sha’ath pointed out that 125 countries have so far promised to back the statehood bid at the UN. “We want Palestine to become the 194th member of the UN,” he added.
He also voiced hope that the EU countries would support the PA’s application for full membership in the UN.
EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton is scheduled to return to the region in the coming days for additional talks on the Palestinian statehood plan, Sha’ath disclosed. He said that Ashton would inform the Palestinian leadership of the EU’s final stance regarding the statehood bid.
Expressing fear that the US would foil the PA’s plan at the UN, Sha’ath said that the PA leadership was determined to go ahead with its initiative. “We won’t succumb to any pressure because our people are determined to achieve freedom and independence,” he stressed.
Sha’ath also dismissed claims that the statehood bid would affect the status of the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians” and deprive the refugees of the “right of return” to their original villages inside Israel. The PLO, he said, would remain the legitimate and sole representative of our people. “Going to the UN won’t affect the status of the PLO,” he said.
Sha’ath pointed out that the PLO had declared an independent Palestinian state in 1988 in Algiers. He also noted that the PA had been established by the PLO, which is now planning to go to the UN to seek full membership of a Palestinian state.
According to Sha’ath, after the vote at the UN, the PA would work toward establishing a national unity government with Hamas and holding presidential and parliamentary elections.
In a related development, PLO negotiaor Saeb Erekat denied on Sunday that the Palestinians had received new US proposals to resume peace talks with Israel. He said that the PA was pursuing contacts with the US Administration on the issue of the statehood bid.
The Quartet’s special envoy, Tony Blair, is also scheduled to meet with Abbas on Tuesday in Ramallah to discuss the issue, Erekat said.