Palestinian PM skeptical of UN bid
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state would largely be a symbolic victory and would not change the reality of Israeli occupation, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday.
Fayyad’s skepticism, voiced in an interview with The Associated Press, set him apart from the rest of the Palestinian leadership. Earlier this week, President Mahmoud Abbas and top officials in his Fatah movement formally decided to seek U.N. membership for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
Abbas aide Nabil Shaath told reporters Tuesday that the recognition request would be submitted in September — dispelling speculation about a mid-July deadline — and that the process might take several weeks.
He and others have said that if an expected U.S. veto in the Security Council blocks full U.N. membership, the Palestinians will ask the General Assembly to accept Palestine as a non-member observer state — a status he said could grant the Palestinians membership in U.N.-related institutions.
After obtaining General Assembly recognition, the Palestinians might go back to the Security Council in hopes that a show of broad international support would persuade the U.S. to drop the veto idea, he said.
Beyond such procedural changes, the Palestinians hope U.N. recognition will give them more clout in future dealings with Israel and improve prospects for successful negotiations. U.N. membership “would increase our resolve to continue a peace process that would bring about a two-state solution,” Shaath said.
Fayyad, a political independent who has focused on trying to build a state from the ground up, expressed doubts about the U.N. campaign and warned against raising the expectations of ordinary Palestinians.
“It is not going to be a dramatic result,” said Fayyad, who is not involved in decision-making on foreign policy, but enjoys broad support in the international community. He said he wanted to downplay expectations for something dramatic to change if it does happen.
Asked if anything would change on the ground after U.N. recognition, he said: “My answer to you is no. Unless Israel is part of that consensus, it won’t because to me, it is about ending Israeli occupation.”
Both Israel and the U.S. strongly object to the Palestinians’ attempt to seek U.N. recognition, urging them instead to resume peace negotiations. Abbas and his aides believe it will be impossible to reach a deal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and suspect he seeks negotiations simply as a stalling tactic.
Shaath said Tuesday the Palestinians would consider dropping the U.N. bid only if Israel unexpectedly decides to freeze settlement construction in the occupied territories and recognizes the pre-1967 line as the basis for border talks. Israel has rejected both demands.
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