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Palestinians launch bid for UN membership

Video by Kyle G. Brown

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-09

Palestinian representatives began their campaign for statehood recognition with a march to United Nations headquarters in the West bank, ahead of a formal application to the UN on September 20. The US said it would veto the bid.

AFP - The Palestinians on Thursday launched a campaign in support of their UN membership bid despite US opposition, as their leaders met to reaffirm plans to become the world body's 194th member state.

Washington, however, confirmed it would veto any such bid and an EU source said European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was to travel to the Middle East next week for talks on the Palestinian push.

The so-called "National Campaign for Palestine: State 194" is part of the build-up to September 20, when president Mahmud Abbas is expected to submit a formal request the United Nations accept the state of Palestine as a member.

Abbas on Thursday met senior Palestinian representatives including the central committee of his Fatah party, the PLO's executive committee and leaders of various Palestinian political parties.

UN’s Ban Ki-moon gives cautious support

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed his support for an independent Palestinian state on Friday but said Palestinian U.N. membership was an issue for member states to decide.

The PLO committee "affirms the need to continue at the next session of the UN, the process to obtain recognition of membership for a state of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital," PLO secretary general Yasser Abed Rabbo said in a statement after the session.

"The Palestinian leadership believes that attaining this goal will encourage the relaunch of a serious peace process and new negotiations with the clear objective of a two-state solution on the 1967 borders," he said, referring to the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.

The leadership meetings came just 10 days before Abbas is expected to fly to New York where he will present a formal membership request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 20.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington's opposition to such a move by the Palestinians rather than direct negotiations with Israel "should not come as a shock."

"So yes, if something comes to a vote in the UN Security Council, the US will veto," she said.

Meanwhile, the EU source in Brussels said that Ashton will leave early next week for Cairo to meet Arab League ministers and Abbas for talks on the bid, also opposed by Israel.

She will also travel to Israel as part of her efforts to ensure the Palestinian resolution "can get broader support," the source added, declining to be named.

If the bid is vetoed in the Security Council, the Palestinians plan to turn to the General Assembly where they are expected to easily win the votes needed to upgrade their representation from observer body to non-member state.

As the leaders met in Ramallah, the official Palestinian campaign of support for the bid got under way with around 100 people marching to UN headquarters in the West Bank town to hand in a letter to the UN representative asking that Ban support the membership application.

The letter, a copy of which was seen by AFP, said the campaign would continue "until the state of Palestine is finally admitted as member state number 194."

Chanting "We want a state," the marchers waved Palestinian flags and held up signs demanding that Palestine be admitted as the 194th state, also calling on Arab nations to support the bid.

The letter was given to Pascal Soto, head of the UN office in Ramallah, by Latifa Abu Hamid, a 60-year-old mother from Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, whose seven sons who have all spent time in Israeli prisons. Her eighth son was shot dead by Israeli troops.

"I'm delivering this message to the UN to say we have a right to our own state just like everyone else in the world and we have a right to see the end of the occupation," she said.

The letter urged Ban to "stand by justice and do right by our people."

"The admission of the state of Palestine to the UN is an important step towards ending the occupation and achieving Palestinian independence and realising a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East," it reads.

"We hope that you will join the international consensus and support the Palestinian bid for its long-overdue recognition."

Soto said he would pass the letter on to the UN chief.

After submitting the UN request on September 20, Abbas is to address the General Assembly on September 23 in a speech officials say will be broadcast on giant screens in Palestinian cities.
 

Date created : 2011-09-08

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