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Palestinians launch UN campaign

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories, Sept 8 AFP – The Palestinians insist they are going ahead with a UN membership bid despite a US veto threat, reaffirming 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 Mahmoud 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 Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive committee and leaders of various Palestinian political parties.

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.

But Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, told AFP the Palestinians were undeterred.

“We don’t want problems with the US administration but we are committed to negotiations based on the 1967 lines and a freeze on (Jewish) settlements,” he said, referring to principles backed by Washington but rejected by Israel.

As Palestinian leaders met in Ramallah, the official campaign of support for the bid got under way with about 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.

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.