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US rejects call for unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence if peace talks fail

Feb. 21, 2008 1:08 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 21, 2008 1:08 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Agencies - The United States on Wednesday rejected

the comments made by senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Palestinians should follow the example of Kosovo and unilaterally declare independence if Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations fail.

Following Tuesday's meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, said, "If things are not going in the direction of actually halting settlement activities, if things are not going in the direction of continuous and serious negotiations, then we should take the step and announce our independence unilaterally," adding, "Kosovo is not better than us. We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence."

US State Department spokesman Shawn McCormack said there was still room for a positive outcome in the Isareli-Palestinian peace negotiations, while in Kosovo there is no hopes of negotiation.

He added that Kosovo was a unique case, reiterating that the US recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence. Several other western countries, including the UK, Germany and Italy, have also recognised the world's latest independent state.

When asked why Kosovo waited only nine years under the command of the UN while the Palestinians have been waiting for independence since 1948, McCormack said, "It has become impossible to work out a political compromise in Kosovo, while in the Middle East there is still an opportunity for a compromise."

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