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Erekat: UN bid to continue despite warning from US

July 7, 2011 12:52 A.M. (Updated: July 10, 2011 12:52 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- PLO official Saeb Erekat said Wednesday that Palestinians would continue with a UN bid for recognition of an independent Palestinian state, after meeting US officials in Washington DC.

The United States warned the Palestinians against seeking UN recognition of a future state not first defined in talks with Israel.

In a press conference, Erekat stressed that the resolution, planned for September, does not contradict renewing currently stalled peace negotiations with Israel.

"We don't see a contradiction between the efforts being exerted to revive the peace process and our bid to go to the UN," he said.

Erekat said the coming meeting of the Middle East Quartet -- the diplomatic body pursuing peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians -- would not "invent the wheel."

The decision to push ahead at the UN will be taken at the Arab League follow up committee meeting in Cairo on 16 July, Erekat said, noting that according to UN procedures Palestinians should submit the application by the end July for the September vote.

PLO officials met with US President Barack Obama's acting Middle East envoy David Hale and senior US diplomat Dennis Ross in the US capital on Wednesday.

State department spokesperson department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the officials renewed US objections to the Palestinian plan during the meeting.

"Our goal is to get these parties back to the table, and our position on the idea of a UN action in September remains that it's not a good idea, that it's not helpful," she told reporters.

Amid the diplomatic tussling, the US House of Representatives turned towards voting by week's end on a symbolic resolution warning the Palestinians they risk US aid cuts if they pursue their plans at the United Nations.

The House was expected to overwhelmingly back the measure authored by Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer just one week after the Senate passed a similar resolution.

The Palestinians "must understand that the solution to this conflict will only come through direct negotiations with the Israelis and not by circumventing the peace process through international parliamentary gimmickry," said Cantor.

The resolution also urges Obama to consider suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority pending a view of a unity deal between president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and the radical Islamist movement Hamas.

"Any Palestinian unity government must publicly and formally forswear terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with Israel," it says.

Peace talks ground to a halt in September 2010 when Israel failed to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since 1967.

AFP contributed to this report
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