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Palestinians mull next step after UN deadlock over membership

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-11

The Palestinian application for full membership at the United Nations hit a new snag on Friday after the Security Council confirmed it could not reach a consensus.

AFP - UN Security Council deadlock over the Palestinian bid for full UN membership left the Palestinian leadership facing an uphill struggle Friday in their quest for the ultimate diplomatic prize.

But the Palestinian envoy to the UN insisted after the Security Council membership adopted a report which confirmed its failure to agree on the Palestinian bid that there would be no letup in the campaign.

President Mahmud Abbas would "quickly" decide the next step, said the Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour.

"We will consult with our friends, intensify our efforts and we are dead determined to succeed in this exercise and I believe that we will," Mansour told reporters.

The United States has vowed to veto any full Security Council vote on Palestinian membership and it has become clear that the Palestinians would not get the required nine votes out of 15 to approve membership.

The Security Council report detailed how some members supported the Palestinian bid and some opposed membership, without mentioning names or numbers.

Portugal's UN ambassador, Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, Security Council president for November, said there was no plan for a full council meeting where a vote could be held.

"I will be consulting other members of the council, other interested parties and we will decide the way forward," Cabral told reporters.

Abbas made the application amid international fanfare at the UN General Assembly on September 23.

Abbas is to meet the Arab League representatives next Wednesday and some kind of decision on whether to seek a Security Council vote or try for super-observer status in a UN General Assembly vote is expected after that.

The United States and Israel oppose full membership of a Palestinian state, saying that it can only be achieved in direct talks with Israel.

"The Palestinians have to make their own choice as to how to proceed," said US ambassador Susan Rice. "We will look to see what they do," she added in another sign of the mystery over Palestinian intentions.

Eight countries on the council have openly declared support for the Palestinian bid or are likely to back it. Key European powers Britain and France have said they would abstain. Germany and others would be likely to follow.

The Europeans also want to see the Palestinians return to talks with Israel that have been frozen since last year because of Israel's refusal to halt construction in the occupied territories.

Heading into Friday's talks, German ambassador Peter Wittig said it was clear the Palestinians had no majority backing for membership.

"We think the Palestinians should now weigh their options and reconsider what to do," Wittig told reporters.

The Palestinian success in securing acceptance in UNESCO, the UN's cultural and educational agency, was only a temporary boost to the membership campaign, many UN diplomats say.

The Palestinian leadership could now go to the 193 member UN General Assembly and seek super-observer status as a first step to full membership. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has strongly pressed this proposal.

Such a move would allow the the Palestinians to join UN organizations and sign international treaties, such as the International Criminal Court.

"But Abbas must weigh whether this would not be seen as a poor consolation prize after the Security Council rebuffal," said one UN Security Council diplomat.

"We have collectively to do more work and we are more determined than ever to continue with this exercise until the conditions in the Security Council are ripe for Palestine to become a member state," Mansour said.

Date created : 2011-11-11

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