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National figures urge alternatives to UN bid

Aug. 15, 2011 2:47 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 16, 2011 1:06 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A group of well-known Palestinian figures released a statement on Sunday calling for Palestinian leaders to continue considering other options besides the bid for UN recognition in September.

Writers, intellectuals, journalists, parliamentarians and civil society leaders signed the declaration which states that the approach to the UN "should not be an alternative, but a natural and continued efforts besides all other possible options."

The statement continues: "We the signatories entirely see that going to UN Security Council is risky, and that there are huge obstacles facing the request for membership" of a Palestinian state at the UN, citing a lack of support from some European countries, and the "backtrack" of US President Barack Obama on pledges made at his June 2009 speech at Cairo University.

Signatories agreed that international diplomacy has a place in Palestinian strategies for independence, noting the "huge accomplishments" in placing the issue of Palestine at the heart of the international agenda due to the popular struggle, as well as the "distinguished performance of Palestinian diplomacy."

The group of established names urged Palestinians across Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Diaspora and inside Israel to support the effort to establish a state of Palestine that is pluralistic, open and ruled by justice, equality and public freedoms.

Their statement noted its release more than three months after a reconciliation deal was signed between Gaza ruling party Hamas and West Bank authorities Fatah.

Delays in forming a unity government to unite the territories "is harming the interest of Palestinians and the national cause," the group said.

The stalled implementation of the deal -- including the release of political prisoners, reform of national bodies, and opening barred institutions in the respective territories -- shows a "lack of seriousness" and "unconvincing procrastinating," the figures said.

Signatories included Kamal Murtaga and Jaber Ad-Daur of Gaza's Al-Azhar University, writers Hani Habib, Mohammad Hejazi, Yehya Rabah and Akram Attallah, and General Director of the Palestinian Center for Research on Policy and Strategic Studies, Hani Al-Masri.

Palestinian leaders are preparing to pitch full membership of a Palestinian state at the UN, to be voted on in the General Assembly in September.

Officials claim UN recognition will give international force to the preparations for statehood undertaken by the Palestinian Authority, and are the only way forward after negotiations with Israel halted after the state refused to implement a freeze on settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories Palestinians claim for their future state.

Detractors of the bid say it will jeopardize Palestinian rights by ignoring the Diaspora and Palestinians in Israel, while absolving the international community of their responsibilities.
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