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PLO circulating UN draft resolution

Nov. 9, 2012 8:03 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 11, 2012 10:29 P.M.)
By: Bassam Abu Eid
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A draft United Nations resolution asking the General Assembly to upgrade Palestine's status in the world body has been distributed to 192 states but not Israel.

PLO sources say the draft is being discussed as the basis for the resolution which will seek to upgrade Palestine's status to an "observer" state similar to the Vatican.

A meeting of an Arab League committee which is going to be held in Cairo will determine the date of voting regarding the draft resolution, the sources say.

If approved, the resolution would "accord to Palestine Observer State status in the United Nations system, without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people."

The Palestinians are currently considered an observer "entity" at the United Nations. Acceptance of the Palestinians as a non-member state, similar to the Vatican's UN status, would implicitly recognize Palestinian statehood.

The upgrade could also grant the Palestinians access to bodies like the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they could file complaints against Israel.

Full text: Agenda Item 37: Question of Palestine

The status upgrade seems certain to win approval in any vote in the General Assembly, which is composed mostly of post-colonial states historically sympathetic to the Palestinians. Palestinian diplomats also are courting European countries to further burnish their case.

Frustrated that their bid for full UN membership last year failed amid US opposition in the UN Security Council, Palestinians launched their watered-down bid for recognition as an "observer state," the same status given to the Vatican.

Israel and the United States oppose the move by the Palestinians and have called on President Mahmoud Abbas to return to peace talks that collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

The draft resolution would have UN member states express "the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process."

Palestinian officials said last month they can count on around 115 "yes" votes in the General Assembly, mostly from Arab, African, Latin American and Asian states, and expect around 22 "no" votes, led by the United States, as well as 56 abstentions.

In October the PLO began distributing a position paper to European governments detailing the plans to seek an upgrade of Palestine's status at the UN.

In the document, the PLO emphasizes that membership in the UN is no substitute for negotiations with Israel. But it says Palestine's right to self-determination does not require Israeli approval.

The text 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.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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