Palestinians to take statehood bid back to UN

By Ben Hartman, August 9, 2012
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The Palestinian Authority will head to the UN General Assembly next month to seek non-state membership, despite a series of carrots and sticks held up by Israel in an effort to block the bid.

While Israel says that it “reserves the right to respond as it sees fit”, last week the government said it was also prepared to release prisoners and help the Palestinians exploit the gas fields off Gaza in exchange for dropping the bid.

The decision to return to the UN was announced by Foreign Minister Riad Malki on Saturday and comes a year after the PA failed to gain the support of enough members of the Security Council to force a US veto of the move.

The PA would almost certainly win approval for the non-state bid at the UN General Assembly, where the majority of member states are sympathetic to their cause. It hopes a successful bid will help with a future statehood request at the Security Council, as well as with access to international forums such as the International Criminal Court.

Israeli prime minister’s spokesman Mark Regev said this week that the peace process must “be resolved in negotiations, and from Israel’s perspective, going to the UN would be a fundamental violation of Palestinian commitments”.

Mr Regev said the Palestinians “have much to gain from engagement with Israel. However, if they refuse and choose the unilateral track, they would be throwing away the opportunities offered by engagement and in so doing they would be doing their own people a disservice.”

Mr Regev did not elaborate on what steps Israel would take in response, only that it “reserves the right to respond”.

The director of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s press office, Mohammed Odwan, said on Tuesday that the Palestinians “have no other choice; Israel is not stopping its settlement policies and they are refusing to come back to the negotiations table”.

Mr Odwan added that the Palestinians are not worried about Israeli counter-measures. “What more could this occupation force do to us?”

Last updated: 10:46am, August 9 2012