Ban: Israelis, Palestinians on collision course over UN bid

UN chief calls on both sides to exercise restraint; France says it would abstain from voting for PA UN membership bid in Security Council.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
November 4, 2011 21:41
2 minute read.
Ban Ki-Moon

Ban Ki-Moon 311 Reuters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday warned that Israel and the Palestinians were on a "collision course" as the two sides face-off over the Palestinian Authority's gambit to be admitted as a full member in the United Nations.

"Now is the time for all sides to exercise restraint so as to step back from the collision course,” a UN spokesman quoted Ban as saying while at the G20 summit in Cannes, France.

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Analysis: US, peace talks hurt most by PA UNESCO bid

The French foreign ministry said on Friday that France would abstain in a vote on a Palestinian request for full membership of the United Nations,

While France regarded the quest for Palestinian statehood as legitimate, the request for full UN membership had no chance of being accepted, notably because of US opposition, the ministry said in an electronic media briefing.

"That is why, during a (UN) admissions committee meeting, France's permanent representative at the United Nations said France would have no choice but to abstain in the Security Council," it said.

A vote was possible any time from Nov. 11 onwards, it said.

The ministry reiterated a French proposal that observer status be granted as an intermediary response and urging the pursuit of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

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France was among the countries that voted last Monday to grant the Palestinians full membership of the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, based in Paris.

The Palestinians had gone to UNESCO as a first step in their quest for statehood recognition in the over-arching UN system in September, which the Palestinians formally requested in September.

On Thursday, diplomats assembled at the G20 summit meeting in Cannes had suggested that several countries, including France, would abstain in a vote on that request.

The Palestinians' foreign minister said on Thursday that they will not accept anything less than full UN membership and do not want an upgrade to an observer state in the world body.

The Palestinian bid for statehood recognition in the UN system has drawn fierce criticism and sanctions from the United States and from Israel, which in 1967 captured territory the Palestinians now seek for an independent country.

Both the United States and Israel say the Palestinian push in the United Nations is unilateral and an attempt to bypass peace talks, whose resumption Abbas has conditioned on an Israeli freeze of settlement activity in occupied territory.

The Palestinians say those negotiations have failed to bring them closer to the independent state they seek in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and that it's time try a different approach.

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