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Negotiator: UN bid underway, US asked for delay

June 25, 2012 12:54 P.M. (Updated: June 27, 2012 1:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- PLO negotiator Muhammad Ishtayya said Monday that the US and other foreign nations were pressing the Palestinian leadership to suspend its campaign for membership of UN bodies until after the US presidential election.

Ishtayya told the official PA radio Voice of Palestine that the leadership had initiated the process of obtaining a UN General Assembly resolution which recognizes a Palestinian state on borders prior to Israel's occupation in 1967.

Palestinian officials have opened talks with Arab states and France to get the process started, he said.

Paris broke from its allies in October when it backed Palestinian efforts to become a full member of UNESCO, the UN's cultural arm and the first UN agency to grant Palestine full membership.

The US cut off funds to UNESCO after the vote to admit Palestine last year, and earlier cut Palestinian aid after President Mahmoud Abbas made a bid for recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations Security Council.

After the bid failed, Palestinian leaders continued to tout the option of seeking the lesser status upgrade at the UN General Assembly, where the US does not have veto power.

The US has supported Israel's position that UN membership efforts are a unilateral step, bypassing peace talks, and US President Barack Obama is likely to avoid any confrontation before he seeks re-election in a November vote.

Ishtayya denied that Arab countries had exerted pressure on Palestine to stop UN membership bids, insisting that the applications were supported diplomatically and financially by the Arab world.

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