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UN bid coincides with Lebanon presidency

Aug. 13, 2011 3:50 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 15, 2011 2:45 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The leadership in Ramallah chose to submit their bid for statehood in September to coincide with Lebanon's presidency of the UN Security Council, the Palestinian Authority foreign minister said Saturday.

"We chose to submit it in September because the Lebanese envoy will be president of the Security Council and plays a pivotal role," Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki said.

The minister told reporters at his office in Ramallah that President Mahmoud Abbas would submit the bid personally, adding that he would visit Lebanon on Tuesday to discuss the campaign.

Al-Malki said the bid would be handed to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who would refer it to Lebanon in its capacity as president of the UN Security Council.

According to UN protocol, the bid should be submitted 35 days before the council's session, Al-Malki said. However, there have been exceptions to this rule: South Sudan submitted its bid for independence just two days before it was recognized by the UN.

The US is openly opposed to the campaign and could request the bid be delayed.

But Al-Malki said the decision to delay it would ultimately lie with Lebanon, adding that "we have enough member states to face the US request [to delay the vote]."

As for the significance of statehood to the Palestinians, the foreign minister said even if Palestine obtained the status of a non-member state, that would be meaningful.

Being a member of UN bodies will help us press our cause within these organizations, he said.

“Israel is trying to thwart the move through two claims. The first is that recognition of a Palestinian state will harm the political process and negotiations. They speak as if the political process is going on smoothly, and yet there are still countries in the world which buy this Israeli narrative.

"The second claim is that recognition of state will make Hamas, ‘the terrorist organization who wants to destroy Israel,’ part of the Palestinian political system," he said.

Direct peace talks collapsed in September over Israel's refusal to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement construction.

In April, Abbas' Fatah party ended its longstanding hostility with Hamas in a surprise reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo.

However, Hamas is not part of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is in theory the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Only its decisions are considered binding, officials in Ramallah say.

Three Palestinian factions affiliated with the PLO on Saturday declared their support for the UN bid.

The Arab Liberation Front, Palestinian Liberation Front and Palestinian Popular Struggle met in Gaza City and urged the international community to enable the Palestinians to establish an independent state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

The factions called for national unity to support the statehood campaign and said the reconciliation deal in Cairo must be implemented honestly.

Any delay in national unity would harm the Palestinian cause and national project, the parties said in a statement.

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