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Erekat: We will seek UN recognition soon

March 20, 2011 6:01 P.M. (Updated: March 22, 2011 9:26 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- The United Nations will be asked to recognize a Palestinian state with full membership of the world body, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.

The decision to go forward with the plan had been made by the Palestinian leadership and it is the "choice of president Mahmoud Abbas," resigned chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

However, Erakat said no date had been set for the move, which would request the world body recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, saying only that it would happen "as soon as possible."

The decision to pursue the move comes a month after the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have condemned continued Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian lands.

The resolution, drafted by the Palestinian leadership in an attempt to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, was supported by the 14 other members of the Security Council.

The United States said its veto should not be interpreted as support for Israeli settlement construction, but that it did not believe the United Nations was the best place to resolve the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

US-lead mediation efforts have been stalled since September.

Despite the last frustration, Erakat - who tendered his resignation to Abbas in early February over controversy from leaked negotiations documents - said he was confident this time the move would succeed.

"The choice of Palestine applying for to the Security Council for a full membership is a realistic one that we must work on applying as soon as possible," he said.

Erakat said the Palestinians had no choice but to seek an alternative as negotiations with Israel were not going anywhere.

"We are convinced that negotiation with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's government is impossible because it refuses to stop settlement activities," he said.

"So the Palestinian leadership decided to start implementing alternatives to negotiations and the first of these is demanding recognition," he said.

The United States secured the relaunch of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians in September 2009, after a hiatus of nearly two years.

But the negotiations ground to a halt just weeks later, with the expiry of an Israeli moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank.

The Palestinians insist they will not negotiate while Israel builds on land they want for a future state.
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