Middle East News
Palestinian state gaining support among UN members
By JT Nguyen Jul 26, 2011, 19:09 GMT
New York - The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday called for the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state and give it United Nations membership.
The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said the PA intended to submit a demand to the 193-nation assembly to recognize a Palestinian state, citing the support of 120 UN members. The assembly is to open its annual session in mid-September.
'The moment is now for the march of the Palestinian state,' Mansour told reporters following his address to the UN Security Council during a session on the Middle East peace process.
'Why should the Palestinian people be forced to languish yet another year - or even one more day - under foreign occupation?' Mansour said in his speech.
Germany's Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Werner Hoyer, who attended the council meeting, said that the Middle East has entered a 'crucial moment' with people across the region demanding 'freedom, democracy and a better life.'
He said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, against the volatile regional context, should reach a settlement as an urgent matter.
'Let me be very clear on this: Germany supports the establishment of a Palestinian state,' Hoyer said. 'As a matter of course, such a state will become a member of the UN. Progress in this direction is a matter of urgency.'
Arab and Muslim government envoys supported Palestinian statehood during the council debate.
But Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said there are no shortcuts to the Palestinian statehood, insisting Palestinian leaders follow the course of negotiations to reach their goal.
'You cannot bypass the only path to peace,' Prosor said. 'The Palestinians will have to make compromises and make hard choices. They have to get off the bandwagon of unilateralism - and back to the hard work of direct peacemaking.'
Mansour said the statehood plan includes the assembly giving UN membership to the Palestinian state 'in three days' once statehood was obtained. He said the Palestinians would do better than the Republic of South Sudan, which entered the international body just five days after it declared independence from Sudan on July 9.
More than 120 countries have given the PA 'bilateral recognition' of statehood and back its becoming part of the international community, he said.
The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, said the Palestinian move was expected because the political process to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in a 'profound and persistent deadlock,' which has prompted the Palestinian side to explore the UN for alternatives.
Efforts to push both sides to resume negotiations have also become 'extremely difficult,' Serry said.
'In the absence of a framework for meaningful talks, and with Israeli settlement activity continuing, the Palestinians are actively exploring approaching the UN,' Serry said, referring to the Palestinian plan for recognition when the UN General Assembly opens its annual session in mid-September.
Israel and the United States have been lobbying against Palestinian statehood, saying it would effectively end decades of peace talk efforts.
Unless negotiations are revived at the last minute, Palestine is headed to becoming an internationally recognized state within the 1967 borders.
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