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Middle East
Arab states 'to back Palestine statehood bid'
Arab countries to push for a fully fledged Palestinian state at the United Nations next week, Qatari PM says.
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2011 02:59
The Arab League met in Cairo on Monday to discuss the PA's bid for statehood at the UN later this month [EPA]

Arab states will push for a fully-fledged Palestinian state at the United Nations next week, the Qatari prime minister has said despite a US threat to block such a move.

Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, told a late Monday night consultation session that he hoped the gathering would support the Arab plan to take the Palestinian bid for statehood to the UN General Assembly.

"The Arabs had agreed to apply to the United Nations for a full-fledged Palestinian state with its capital East Jerusalem," al-Thani, chairman of the follow-up committee on the Palestinian UN bid, said at the start of the meeting.

He did not mention the option of taking a resolution to the Security Council and forcing the US to fulfill its pledge to cast a veto.

"We will review in this meeting the steps taken to go to the UN, because this is an Arab demand," he said.

US President Barack Obama said on Monday that if the Palestinians try to achieve statehood in the UN Security Council, the US will oppose the proposal.

"If this came to the Security Council we would object very strongly, precisely because we think it would be counterproductive. We don't think that it would actually lead to the outcome that we want, which is a two state solution," he told the Spanish service of the German Press Agency dpa and other Spanish-language media in an interview.

"What we've said is that going to the UN is a distraction, does not solve the problem," he said. "This issue is only gonna be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians agreeing to something."

The Palestinians currently hold UN "observer" status. They decided to seek UN recognition of statehood after years of failed negotiations with Israel.

They could also seek lower status as a "non-member state", which would require a simple majority of the 193-nation Assembly.

Adel Iskandar, a professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, told Al Jazeera that the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has nothing else to market itself on. "This is the crisis that they face. It's a crisis of legitimacy, a crisis of accountability."

Strategy not clear

Diplomats have said the strategy Palestinians plan to adopt when the UN General Assembly opens on September 19 is not yet clear.

Earlier on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is in Cairo for talks with officials at an Arab foreign ministers' meeting on the UN bid for Palestinian statehood, said the EU has still not decided on a united position yet.

Ashton, speaking after meeting Egypt's foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr in Cairo, said: "There is no resolution on the table yet, so there is no position."

"What we're very clear about from the European Union is that the way forward is negotiations," she said.

"We want to see a just and fair settlement, we want to see the people of Palestine and the people of Israel living side by side in peace and security, and I will do everything I can to help achieve that."

Ashton left the meeting minutes after it began, saying that the EU believed that a Palestinian state should come through negotiations.

Palestinian officials say that the European Union was waiting to see the text of the UN resolution to recognise Palestine.

President Mahmoud Abbas, heading the Palestinian delegation to the meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, has been under US pressure not to go ahead with the UN bid.

Before the meeting began, he met with the head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, to discuss the main elements of the Palestinian resolution, Egypt's state news agency MENA said. He also met separately with Ashton.

Source:
Agencies
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