PA to US: Veto at UN would 'destroy' two-state solution

PLO official says statehood bid won’t affect Palestinians’ "right of return," calls for nonviolent protests in support of effort at UN.

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September 17, 2011 17:17
4 minute read.
PA President Abbas speaking ahead of trip to UN

PA President Mahmoud Abbas 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

 
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The Palestinian Authority on Saturday warned the US against using its Security Council veto to thwart its plan to seek UN membership for a Palestinian state this week.

A US veto would “destroy” the two-state solution, the PA said.

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The warning came after PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced in a speech in Ramallah that he would ask the UN Security Council to accept membership of a Palestinian state.

“We are going to the Security Council,” he declared. “As soon as I finish delivering my speech [at the UN on Friday], I will submit the application [for membership] to the UN secretary-general, who will relay it to the president of the Security Council.”

Abbas said that his “extensive and sincere” efforts to reach an agreement that would end the “occupation” and lead to an independent Palestinian state through negotiations had hit a dead end.

He blamed “Israeli intransigence” for failure of the peace process.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said in response, “Peace is not achieved by taking unilateral steps at the UN and not by linking up with the Hamas terror organization. Peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel.

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“The leadership of the Palestinian Authority has consistently evaded peace negotiations with Israel.

"When the Palestinian Authority will abandon these futile and unilateral measures at the UN, it will find Israel to be a genuine partner for direct peace negotiations.”

But in Ramallah on Friday, Abbas said, “We seek to gain membership in the UN on the basis of the 1967 borders so that we could afterwards return to the negotiations on a clear and internationally recognized reference.”

The statehood bid was only part of the Palestinian strategy that is designed to “put the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital back on the geography map,” he said.

Abbas cautioned Palestinians against resorting to violence, stressing that support for the statehood bid should be “peaceful.” Otherwise, it could “harm us and sabotage our efforts,” he said.

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Abbas said the statehood bid would not affect the status of the PLO as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians.”

The PLO would continue to exist and function not only until a solution to the Palestinian issue was reached, but until it was implemented, he said.

The PLO would also continue to work toward solving the issue of the Palestinian refugees, Abbas said. The PA is part of the PLO, and Abbas heads both.

He said that he was aware that the Palestinians would face major obstacles after the statehood bid at the UN. But “we must remain determined to achieve our goal.”

Even if the PA succeeded at the UN, “we must know that occupation would not end the day after the recognition of the state. But we would have gained recognition of the world that our state is occupied and that our lands are no longer disputed territories as the Israeli government claims,” Abbas said.

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat warned that the US administration’s use of a veto to foil the PA move would destroy the two-state solution.

“Anyone who supports the two-state solution should back the Palestinian effort [at the UN],” he said.

Erekat hinted that the Palestinians would consider dismantling the PA if the US thwarted their statehood bid.

Zakariya al-Agha, the PLO’s top representative in the Gaza Strip, also warned against the consequences of a US veto.

The PA was going to the UN because US President Barack Obama, in his speech to the UN in September 2010, talked about the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state within one year, Agha said.

Calling on Palestinians to take to the streets on Wednesday to support the statehood bid, Agha emphasized the importance of avoiding violence, “so as not to give the Israeli government any excuses to ignite the region.”

The statehood bid would not affect the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” to their original homes inside Israel, the PLO official said.

“The Palestinian state is being established in connection with UN [Security Council] Resolutions 242 and 338,” he said. “But the right of return for the refugees is guaranteed through UN [General Assembly] Resolution 194.”

PLO official Nabil Sha’ath said on Saturday that the catalyst for Abbas’s final decision to seek full membership at the Security Council was a meeting with the US Mideast envoys two days earlier.

Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, Sha’ath said that Dennis Ross and David Hale presented Abbas with a document that was worded worse than one rejected by the Quartet over a month ago, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Sha’ath added that the document indicated that the White House accepted West Bank settlement as de facto policy.

After reading the American paper, Sha’ath explained, Abbas “made up his mind that he was going to the United Nations Security Council to get full membership for the state of Palestine,” according to WAFA.

Tovah Lazaroff and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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