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Israel may 'go crazy' after UN bid, its own diplomats warn

Oct. 27, 2012 4:11 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 29, 2012 10:46 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israel's diplomats are warning that President Mahmoud Abbas' bid to upgrade Palestine's status at the United Nations could lead to unrest, Israeli media reported Friday.

Foreign Ministry officials and Israeli diplomats abroad have been warning of a scenario in which Israel's government "goes crazy" the day after the UN vote, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The newspaper said diplomats are warning countries worldwide and particularly Europe as part of an intensive diplomatic campaign against the move, which comes months amid Israeli elections.

"This is liable to lead ministers and Knesset members to vie with each other over who can offer a tougher response," Haaretz explained, citing Foreign Ministry sources.

They say delaying the vote by a few months would prevent a possible disaster.

"Even today, the atmosphere in the Prime Minister's Bureau is one of 'this time, we'll show them what's what,'" Haaretz quoted a former senior official in contact with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu as saying.

"Likud ministers will pressure him, the polls will scare him. And from there it's not far to a response that would bring about a violent conflagration or the collapse of the Palestinian Authority."

PLO briefs Europe on UN plans

Ma'an reported on Wednesday that the PLO began distributing a position paper to European governments detailing the plans to seek an upgrade of Palestine's status at the UN.

The document underscores concerns about how the United States and Israel will respond if the UN bid succeeds, and it asks European countries not to go along with possible sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.

"Palestine asks the world to reaffirm that the Palestinians are not the exception to the international rule; that they will not be punished for pursuing a peaceful, political and diplomatic initiative on the basis of international law," the document says.

The message followed a private US memo sent to European diplomats in early October warning that any UN upgrade of Palestine's status "would be extremely counterproductive" for the Palestinians and threatening "significant negative consequences".

President Abbas said Wednesday that he would be ready for negotiations with Israel "straightaway" if the UN recognized Palestine as a non-member state.

"We have resolved to go to the UN to save the two-state solution and to achieve the rights of our people as an observer state," Abbas told reporters.

"We're ready to go back to negotiations straightaway. Going to the UN is not a substitute for negotiations. We are in need of negotiations to solve the final status of issues that face us both."

In a letter to US President Barack Obama last week, Abbas said the Palestinian move at the UN was aimed at securing "international recognition that would facilitate negotiations".

The Palestinians need a simple majority for the upgrade, but predict that between 150 and 170 nations will vote in favor.

Peace talks were briefly renewed in 2010 but collapsed after Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month partial settlement construction freeze.
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