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Palestinians hope most UN members back statehood bid

Aug. 24, 2011 10:26 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 26, 2011 1:53 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- A senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday that he hoped the great majority of countries would back a Palestinian membership application to the UN next month.

"We hope for the vote of more than 150 countries for recognition of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with its capital in east Jerusalem as a full member at the United Nations," top official Saeb Erekat told AFP.

The UN has 192 member states.

He was speaking by phone from Jordan, where he arrived with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, after talks the day before with the Arab League in Doha, which endorsed the UN bid.

In a statement, the Arab League monitoring committee said it would "stand by the Arab decision to turn to the United Nations to secure full membership in the organization for the State of Palestine along the borders of June 1967 with its capital in east Jerusalem."

The move was taken "in absence of any clear position on the resumption of negotiations and a timetable for ending the conflict," it said.

The Doha meeting, attended by Abbas and several Arab foreign ministers, approved a plan of action "to mobilize international support for the Palestinian bid," the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) said.

The Palestinians are to formally submit their request for membership to UN chief Ban Ki-moon on September 20 when world leaders begin gathering in New York for the 66th session of the General Assembly.

The decision comes after direct peace talks with Israel ran aground late last year in an intractable dispute over Jewish settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.

Israel is implacably opposed to such a move, saying negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict and establish a Palestinian state in a position backed by Washington.

Abbas held talks on Tuesday with US Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, which touched on the UN bid, an Arab diplomat said.

"Washington and Tel Aviv are exerting pressure in order to prevent the Palestinian-Arab effort without proposing any serious alternative," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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