Palestinians may ask UN to recognize state in ’67 borders

Paris summit scheduled for next week postponed; Israel: PA’s statement meant to pressure international community.

Erekat 311 (photo credit: AP)
Erekat 311
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority announced on Saturday that it was studying the possibility of asking the UN General Assembly and Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.
The announcement followed a meeting of Palestinian officials in Ramallah to discuss the status of the peace process in light of the crisis surrounding Israel’s refusal to impose a second moratorium on new construction in the West Bank settlements.
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Palestinians have also taken issue with Israel’s announcement on Thursday that it planned to build 238 new homes in two Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem “This announcement is a very clear-cut indication that the choice of Mr.
Netanyahu is settlements, not peace,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Friday.
The PA has insisted that all of such areas in the capital that are located over the pre-1967 border must be part of a Palestinian state.
The PA announcement comes as direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians appear to have broken down.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met twice in September for the first formal face-to-face negotiations since such direct talks stopped in December 2008.
France had hoped to host both leaders for another round of talks this month, as part of a larger meeting to prepare for a European Mediterranean meeting in Barcelona at the end of November. Efforts are now under way to hold a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas at that time.
In the next few days, the Palestinian leadership will study, in a more thorough and detailed manner, all the political options available in the wake of the peace process’s obstruction and Israel’s insistence on combining continued settlement construction with direct talks, said a statement issued in Ramallah.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and close adviser to Abbas, said the political options included going to the General Assembly and the Security Council.
“There are also other political options that are being considered,” Abed Rabbo said without elaborating.
“In the next few days, we will study all the political options that are on the table.”
In response, an Israeli government official said that “there is no substitute for direct talks” between the parties and signing an agreement on a final-status solution.
The Palestinians often make threats to avoid direct talks with Israel, which have included dismantling the PA or disavowing the two-state solution, he said.
“All these different avenues are dead ends that lead nowhere,” said the official.
“We see this as a way to apply pressure to the international community.”
The official speculated that the PA is looking to avoid negotiations because in its current political situation, it cannot show the flexibility that is needed for direct negotiations.
But Abed Rabbo said that participants in Saturday’s meeting reiterated their backing for Abbas’s position regarding direct negotiations.
“The resumption of direct talks requires a full cessation of all settlement activities, including those in occupied Jerusalem,” Abed Rabbo said. “This is the only position that will make the negotiations effective and viable.”
When asked about Palestinians plans to turn to the UN, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that his government opposes unilateral steps oneither side.
“We continue to promote direct negotiations as the best way to resolve the conflict and see the emergence of a Palestinian state that meets the aspirations of the Palestinian people and security and stability for Israel and the rest of the region.
“As we have said many, many times there are critical issues involved in this process. They need to be negotiated between the parties.”
But he ducked the question as to what the US would do if the matter was put to a vote at the UN.
“We are doing what we think is the best way to end this conflict, and that is our position. As to how we will vote, obviously, that’s a hypothetical question.”
The Palestinian leadership on Saturday also expressed concern over US and international support for the Israeli government’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. On Monday in the Knesset, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians met this demand, he would impose a second moratorium on settlement construction.
Abed Rabbo told reporters on Saturday that “this matter was already decided in 1993 when Israel and the PLO exchanged a document of mutual recognition, and there’s no need to reopen the case.
“The core of the conflict now is recognition of the borders of a Palestinian state and accepting the June 4, 1967, line as the separating line between Israel and Palestine. Israel and the international community need to endorse this position.”
He said that to avoid “political contradiction,” Israel and the international community must recognize a map that clearly defines the border that would separate Palestine and Israel.
Salim Zanoun, chairman of the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s parliament- in-exile, said over the weekend that it was “impossible” for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state because that would jeopardize the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their original homes inside Israel and threaten the status of Israel’s Arab minority.
“The Palestinians have given all [of] what they have for the sake of peace,” Zanoun said. “But we won’t give up our basic national rights, first and foremost the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital on all the territories occupied in 1967 and the return of the refugees to their homes.
“It’s impossible to recognize Israel as a Jewish state because we want to preserve the right of return for those Palestinians who were forcibly expelled from their homes and lands,” Zanoun said. “We also want to protect the rights of the Arab Palestinians living in the territories that were occupied in 1948 and who are facing a conspiracy by the racist, extremist Israeli government.”
AP contributed to this report.