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Abbas: We may seek UN recognition

Oct. 28, 2010 7:58 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 2, 2010 8:43 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he would consider asking the UN to recognize a Palestinian state.

Speaking in Ramallah after a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Abbas said the move, one of "seven options," could come within months.

“Among these options is to demand that the United States take a stance on recognizing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and the possibility of going the UN Security Council,” Abbas told reporters.

But Abbas said the priority was returning to direct talks under US sponsorship. "Our options are consecutive. The first is to return to direct talks in the event Israel stops all settlement building," Abbas said.

"Consultations are being carried out to stop settlements, and if they want us to return to direct talks, it's well known that Israel just issued a large number of building orders in the settlements," he said.

Israel is building again not only in Jerusalem but the West Bank as well, Abbas noted calling the continuation "unacceptable, and we won't accept it under any circumstances."

Peace talks, relaunched in Washington in September, reached a deadlock within weeks over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to extend restrictions on settlement building.

Despite pleas from the international community -- including the US, UN and EU -- full-scale construction resumed as the freeze expired on 26 September.

At an Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya, earlier this month, Arab leaders opted to give the US one month to resolve the crisis, after which they would reconvene to discuss alternatives to negotiations.

In Tel Aviv, Netanyahu rejected a declaration of statehood and called on Abbas to return to direct negotiations as the "only method" toward achieving statehood.

"As long as the Palestinians think they have a unilateral option to go to the Security Council, they are violating commitments to engage seriously in direct talks," he said. "The international community should make clear to the Palestinians that direct negotiation is the only method for achieving a real and stable peace agreement."

Speaking after a meeting with US Senator Joe Lieberman, Netanyahu added that "construction in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] will not affect the peace map. It is important to focus on the real issues."

Concerning Netanyahu's stance against Palestinian "unilateralism," Abbas said, "I wonder what he means by that. Just that we'll go to the Security Council after a few months? Israel has been violating international resolutions for decades. ... And Israel has implemented unilateral acts for decades."

He added: "Netanyahu says that Palestinians should implement their commitments under the Road Map. We say, 'Try us. Let's see if he can come up with any commitment we did not implement. Then, let's see if Israel has implemented any single one of its commitments.

Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian minister, reiterated Cairo's support for Abbas and said that Egypt was carrying out talks with Israel to get the country to reconsider its position on settlements at least until talks restart.

He said the PLO stance against talks amid settlement expansion reflected that of the Arab world.

Israeli settlers, meanwhile, have rejected conditioning the talks on another moratorium, and one settlement leader, David Ha'ivri, even invited Aboul Gheit and other Egyptian officials to "see for themselves" that renewed building did not threaten negotiations.

"I invite the Egyptian leaders to visit the Jewish communities in the Shomron [northern West Bank] in order to see for themselves that this positive development is not something that is about to come to an end and is actually a great benefit to the region," Ha'ivri said.

He said halting development in the West Bank would be "a total waste of time and effort."
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