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Abbas to pursue statehood at UN assembly if no talks

April 8, 2012 8:31 P.M. (Updated: April 11, 2012 10:43 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he will ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood if Israel does not respond to his demands for the resumption of negotiations.

After Palestine's inconclusive bid for recognition by the United Nations Security Council in September 2011, officials in recent months revised their opposition to a lesser upgrade with the larger assembly.

The PLO -- currently listed as an observer "entity" with no voting rights -- applied for full membership of the UN on Sept. 23. An admissions committee said on Nov. 11 it had failed to reach an agreement on the bid.

It had been previously suggested that Palestine could instead seek upgraded observer status via the General Assembly to make it a non-member observer state, like the Vatican.

The president's confirmation on Sunday that he plans to pursue this path if negotiations with Israel continue to stumble, came as he met with the Geneva Peace Initiative and Palestinian-Israeli peace alliance in Ramallah.

He told the delegates that the letter he is writing to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu is an attempt to break the deadlock in the peace process.

The missive will reiterate the president's position that Palestine will not return to peace talks until Israel stops all settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, accepts a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and releases Palestinian political prisoners, Abbas said.

Presidential adviser Nimir Hammad indicated earlier that Palestinian envoys would deliver the message next week, but negotiator Saeb Erekat told Ma'an on Sunday they were still waiting for Israeli confirmation of the meeting.

Israeli and Palestinian delegates met for five rounds of exploratory talks in Jordan during January, after the Quartet of international negotiators -- the US, UN, Russia and EU -- called for proposals by the end of the month.

The talks failed to lead to new negotiations. Palestinian envoys said they gave their briefs in early January, but Israel had not presented a serious proposal during the talks. They also refer to Israel's continued expansion of Jewish-only settlements on land needed for a viable Palestinian state.

Abbas on Sunday told Israeli members of the delegation -- including former Israeli ministers Yossi Beilin and Amnon Shahak, and Chairperson of Meretz party Zahava Gal -- to tell the Israeli public of Palestinians' desire for peace and dismay at the deadlock in talks.
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