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Palestinian UN status likely to be debated in November

Oct. 4, 2012 10:00 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 6, 2012 3:38 P.M.)
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The United Nations is likely to hold a debate on whether to upgrade the Palestinians' UN status to a sovereign country in mid-November -- after the US election, the president of the 193-member UN General Assembly said Wednesday.

Having failed last year to win recognition of full statehood at the United Nations, President Mahmoud Abbas said last week he would seek a less-ambitious status upgrade at the world body to make it a "non-member state" like the Vatican.

The Palestinians' current UN status is an "observer entity." If Abbas wins, that would change to "observer state."

"Come the middle of November, there's going to be an international debate on the Palestine issue in the General Assembly," UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic told a news conference.

"There are electoral and political calendars in many parts of the world," he said in a reference covering the Nov. 6 US election.

"My understanding is the Palestinian Authority leadership is going to engage in extensive discussions ... coming to a conclusion as to what they want to do some time in November."

Upgraded status for a Palestinian state could be uncomfortable for Israel. Being registered as a state rather than an entity would mean the Palestinians could join bodies such as the International Criminal Court and file a raft of complaints against Israel for its continued occupation.

An upgraded status would also anger Israel's close ally, the United States, which argues that a Palestinian state can only be created through direct negotiations.

There have been no direct Palestinian talks with Israel on peace since 2010, when the Palestinians refused to resume negotiations unless the Israeli government suspended settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that the two-state solution was the only sustainable option for peace. But he said the continued growth of Israeli settlements meant that "the door may be closing, for good."
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