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Abbas. 'No foundations'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Arab League to seek UN membership for Palestine
Addressing Arab League meeting, Palestinian president expresses fear UN bid for recognition would result in financial sanctions, urges Arab leaders to serve as 'safety net.' Qatari PM urges freeze of peace process 'until there is ready peace partner'

An Arab League committee decided on Saturday to seek full UN membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with east Jerusalem as its capital, it said in a statement.

 

The Arab League's peace process follow-up committee said it would request membership for the state of Palestine at the UN General Assembly's meeting in New York in September.

 

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said there were "no shared foundations" for peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking UN recognition of Palestinian statehood was his only option.

 

Addressing an Arab League meeting in Doha Abbas expressed concern that taking the diplomatic step opposed by the United States and Israel could result in financial sanctions and urged Arab states to fill any gap.

 

While he left room for a compromise, saying a resumption of peace talks on terms acceptable to the Palestinians would avoid the UN move, the remarks were some of Abbas's bleakest yet on the likelihood of more negotiations.

 

Abbas was speaking at a meeting of the Arab League's peace process committee convened in the wake of major Middle East policy speeches in Washington by US President Barack Obama and PM Netanyahu.

 

The Palestinian leadership has said Netanyahu's ideas for peace with the Palestinians, outlined in a speech to the US Congress on Tuesday, put more obstacles in the path of an already moribund peace process.

 

"We see from the conditions that Netanyahu laid out that there are no shared foundations ... for negotiations. Our fundamental option is to go to the United Nations," Abbas said in his opening remarks.

"This is no secret, we have said it to the Americans and the Europeans and the Israelis, our only option is to go to the United Nations," he said.

 

He expressed fear that the step would lead some states to "try to impose a siege upon us", though he did not say to which governments he was referring. "We hope that there will be a safety net from the Arab states," he said.

 

'The sound path'

"In these circumstances, it seems better to me that we freeze discussion of the peace process until there is a partner ready for peace," said Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, who was chairing the meeting.

 

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, a leading candidate for the Egyptian presidency, told Reuters that Netanyahu had presented nothing but a series of "no's" in his speech to the US Congress.

 

"The sound path is going to the United Nations and political struggle," Moussa said. "I believe that negotiations have become futile in light of all of these nos. What will you negotiate on?"

 

 


First published: 28.05.11, 22:01
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