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Palestinians going ahead with statehood bid

June 26, 2011 8:50 P.M. (Updated: June 28, 2011 7:15 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that with no renewal of peace talks on the horizon, the Palestinians would pursue their unilateral bid for recognition in September.

"I say that if negotiations have failed we will go to the United Nations for membership," Abbas told a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization and his Fatah party.

"Until now there have been no new incentives to return to negotiations," he said.

Abbas had indicated that the Palestinians would be willing to give up the September bid for recognition of a Palestinian state if long dormant peace talks with Israel could be resurrected.

While many states have indicated they will support the bid, including France and Britain, it has faced strong opposition from Israel, the US and Germany, who said any progress toward a Palestinian state must be made through a negotiated agreement.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ground to a halt in September 2010 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians then refused to return to talks as long as Israel built on land they want for a future state.

Instead, they decided to go to the UN General Assembly in September to ask for membership and recognition of a Palestinian state in the borders that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.

One of the stumbling blocks to a renewal of talks has been the unity deal between Abbas's Fatah party and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Israel has refused to deal with Hamas for as long as it calls for Israel's destruction.

The unity deal has run into difficulties, with the two sides failing to agree on a prime minister for an interim government.

Hamas has vociferously rejected Abbas's candidate, current prime minister Salam Fayyad.

Talks between Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on a new Palestinian cabinet, set for Cairo last week, were indefinitely postponed.

But Abbas indicated on Sunday he was not giving up and would be prepared to go to the Gaza Strip.

"For a long time I said I would go to Gaza, and now I say I am still determined to go to Gaza and it will be a surprise for all," he said.

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