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Aide: Abbas to reveal political strategy ahead of UN bid

Sept. 3, 2011 6:28 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 4, 2011 6:18 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver a speech in the coming days to outline the Palestinian political strategy ahead of the bid for full membership of the UN, presidential aide Nabil Abu Rudaineh said Saturday.

Abu Rudaineh announced the upcoming speech to Ma'an radio after Abbas led a Fatah central committee meeting in Ramallah to discuss the UN bid.

"The president will define in detail all the political moves which will be taken before submitting the UN bid, so as to make clear where the Palestinian cause is headed," Abu Rudaineh said.

"The president will address the Palestinian people telling them exactly why the Palestinian Authority will go to the UN, and what caused the current political situation after negotiations stopped, and after the international community failed to work out solutions to the question of Palestine, and to move the negotiation process forward based on clear foundations."

Abu Rudaineh said Abbas insisted at the Ramallah meeting that Palestinian leaders would continue with the UN campaign "as long as negotiations have not started, and Israel has not committed to clear references to start negotiations."

"We will go to the UN Security Council in coordination with all Arab countries. Going to the UN will be the only way to gain our rights and to maintain our gains," the president told senior Fatah leaders, his aide said.

The support of Arab countries is crucial to the UN bid, Abu Rudaineh said, adding that the Arab League follow-up committee agreed to form delegations to recruit European support for the initiative at a recent meeting in Doha.

With peace talks with Israel frozen, the Palestinians have vowed to seek full UN membership for a state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital, during the assembly's next General Assembly in September.

The US has said it would veto the bid at the Security Council, but the Palestinians may seek an upgrade of their status in the General Assembly instead which would bring the issue up for discussion at the forum.

The European Union has yet to reach a unified stance on the bid, although EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has insisted her goal is a resumption of negotiations.

Speaking to reporters at a seaside resort in Poland on Friday where EU foreign ministers met for two days of informal talks, Austria's Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said the bloc could use its previous statements on the Middle East as a basis for a common view.

"So far the positions in the EU are very divergent," Spindelegger told reporters. "I hope that we, as Europe, can send a signal ... and phrase a text which eventually might be brought before the (UN) assembly."

But foreign ministers speaking in Sopot underscored deeply ingrained differences in Europe.

Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said the EU needed to give support to the Palestinians and a bid for an upgrade of their status at the UN

"I cannot agree to say no," he said.

Dutch minister Uri Rosenthal expressed the opposite view, shared by EU powerbroker Germany, the United States and Israel, that the Palestinians should refrain from unilateral moves and push to resume peace negotiations instead.

"The Dutch position has been very clear ... we are totally against any unilateral steps whatever they might be and any step should be on the basis of any agreement of all the parties concerned," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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