Palestinians want UN seat ‘even if talks start’

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Palestinians have sought international backing for a plan to seek recognition and membership
© AFP/File Abbas Momani
Palestinians have sought international backing for a plan to seek recognition and membership
© AFP/File Abbas Momani

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – (AFP) – The Palestinians will seek UN recognition and membership regardless of whether there is a resumption of peace talks, negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh said on Thursday.

His comments were made as the international community pushes a raft of new peace initiatives in a bid to head off the Palestinian push for UN membership.

But Shtayeh said the Palestinians were determined to seek recognition and that talks could proceed alongside their bid.

“We are by all means going to the United Nations, whether there are negotiations or no negotiations,” he told reporters in Ramallah, adding that he thought there was little chances talks would resume.

“We think that is not either/or — we think that going to the United Nations and negotiations can go hand in hand and they are complementary to each other,” Shtayeh said.

Negotiations have been on hold since late September 2010, when they ground to a halt after a partial freeze on Israeli settlement construction expired.

The Israelis refused to renew the freeze and the Palestinians have said they will not talk while Israel builds on land they want for their future state.

As the talks remained stuck in a stalemate, the Palestinians have sought international backing for a plan to seek recognition and membership at the United Nations during the General Assembly in September.

The United States and several European countries have stated their opposition to the plan, and are reportedly seeking a new peace initiative that could relaunch talks and convince the Palestinians to abandon the UN push.

“We are ready to live with any proposal. But the problem is, we don’t want anybody to believe that these sort of proposals are actually initiatives that are an alternative to us going to the United Nations,” he said.

“We are going to the United Nations.”

Shtayeh said the Palestinians were actively seeking support, particularly in Europe, for bid to get UN recognition of a state on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War.

“For us and the Israelis the battle is over Europe because the issue is not how many states, the issue is also quality states, with all respect to everybody,” he said.

“So it is important for us that Europe recognises Palestine and I think that the Europeans obviously are trying to come up with initiatives so that they are not politically embarrassed in one way or another.”