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Erekat: World should stand against occupation

Nov. 16, 2009 12:25 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 17, 2009 8:15 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Saeb Erekat, the chief PLO negotiator, officially announced on Monday that efforts to issue a UN Security Council resolution recognizing the Palestinian state on the borders of 4 June 1967 has begun.

At a news conference at the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department, Erekat said the Palestinian leadership calls on the international community to support this move.

Erekat has specifically called on European countries to back the Palestinian decision by expressing their commitment to international law to end the Israeli occupation and save the two-state solution, he said.

Regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's threats to respond with similar unilateralism, Erekat responded, "Israel's daily provocative actions are unilateral," according to a separate statement.

He added, "Occupied East Jerusalem has become the key battleground on which the very future of the two-state solution hinges. Without East Jerusalem as its capital, there can be no economically or politically viable Palestinian state. Nor can there be a Palestinian state without Gaza."

In Gaza, Erekat noted, "Israel today maintains its military occupation by siege, causing untold human suffering through its policy of collective punishment. As demanded by the international community, Israel must end the siege on Gaza and implement its obligations."

Additionally, he added that the Security Council resolution on a Palestinian state would have to address the "equally important issue" of Palestinian refugees, and "will call for the full enforcement of their rights in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194."

"We are now facing a moment of truth," Erekat concluded. "We will seek to pass this Security Council resolution and the activation of the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect the Palestinian people."

But seeking recognition of an independent state on the 1967 borders is completely different from unilaterally declaring a state, Erekat said on Sunday.

"The PLO is not suggesting we unilaterally declare statehood," he explained, speaking with US and EU lawmakers in Ramallah. He affirmed that seeking UN Security Council recognition was aimed at protecting the two-state solution, which the PLO still prefers.

According to caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Palestinians are determined to build state institutions despite Israel's concerns.

"They're talking about unilateralism, to which we reply - yes, building state institutions is our responsibility and we embrace it," Fayyad said. "A Palestinian state will be established, so long as Palestinians want it, which they do, as it is their natural right to live in a homeland."
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