WASHINGTON – The Palestinians will seek United Nations recognition as an independent state in September even if peace negotiations with Israel are under way, a Palestinian diplomat said Thursday night.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, said the Palestinians were working on three independent tracks: restarting negotiations, building institutions for an independent state and gaining recognition for statehood.
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“If we succeed in opening the door for negotiations, we’re not going to stop from attaining what belongs to us as Palestinians in this General Assembly starting on September 20,” he said.
American and European diplomats have been trying to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, hoping progress could avert a United Nations vote, which they see as counterproductive.
Mansour stressed that "unlike the construction in the West Bank, which is an illegal unilateral act, declaring a state is a given right which is not considered unilateral."
Israel "did not ask permission to declare a state in 1948, the US did not as the British for permission to declare a state in 1776. Our declaration of state in a natural right and not a unilateral act," he said.
Mansour said that while the PA is willing to discuss all relevant issues, "Our independence is not one of the core issues. Illegal settlements are a unilateral act. We are willing to negotiate with our neighbors."
The Palestinian diplomat added that the PA was trying to thwart Israel's efforts to see western European countries oppose the UN bid, saying that the PA will ask those countries to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines.
Mansour said the PA believes that "the Netanyahu government is a radical government which does not reflect the position of the Israeli public. We are facing an historic moment, but the Israeli leaders are living in the past – they think they can prove everyone wrong."
AP contributed to this report
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