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Shaath: Palestine has 9 votes in Security Council

Oct. 11, 2011 11:31 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2011 9:49 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fatah central committee member Nabil Shaath said Monday that nine countries in the Security Council were committed to supporting Palestine's bid for membership in the UN.

Shaath told Ma'an "the nine states that have confirmed voting to us, and we do not question their stance, are the following: Gabon, Bosnia, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, China and Russia."

Six Security Council members -- Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa -- have publicly indicated their backing for the Palestinian bid.

"We should not doubt our allies and we should help these countries in facing US and Israeli pressure and to reinforce the stance of these states through constant meetings and to get assistance from the Arab countries who could support these states," Shaath said.

President Mahmoud Abbas last month submitted a formal application to the UN Security Council for recognition of statehood, ignoring a US threat to veto the measure if it is put to vote.

The UN membership request, which Abbas formally presented to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 23, is being studied by the 15-member Security Council, which is expected to vote on it in the coming weeks.

The Security Council has a review period of 35 days for membership application.

Responding to the Quartet's call on Sunday to invite Palestinians and Israelis to meet, Shaath said that the PLO would not return to negotiations without a halt in settlement activity.

The Quartet has damaged its own credibility in light of a current polarization whereby the US consistently defends Israel, he added.

The Quartet -- the European Union, Russia, US and UN -- proposed on Sept. 23 a return to talks within 30 days, proposals on substantive issues in three months and a peace deal by the end of 2012.

The proposal did not insist on a halt to settlement building in the occupied West Bank, which Palestinian officials say is necessary for the viability of a Palestinian state.

Abbas responded to the most recent Quartet invitation by saying: "We are at any moment willing to return to the negotiating table if Israel is of the same mind."

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told EU policy chief Catherine Ashton that he was "happy to meet Mahmoud Abbas at any time," his office said in a statement.
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