Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table without a freeze on settlement construction
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat gestures has said that the Palestinians have called on the United States to reverse course and support their United Nations membership bid. © Abbas Momani - AFP/File
Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table without a freeze on settlement construction
AFP
Last updated: July 14, 2011

Palestinians call on US to support UN bid

The Palestinians have called on the United States to reverse course and support their United Nations membership bid, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Wednesday.

Erakat, speaking at a news conference in Ramallah, said the Palestinians had been in touch with Washington after a meeting of the Middle East peacemaking Quartet this week that failed to produce a final joint statement.

"In the aftermath of the Quartet meeting, yesterday we urged the United States administration to revisit, reassess, re-evaluate its position vis-a-vis our attempt to gain Palestine admittance to the UN," he said.

The Quartet meeting on Monday, which brought together representatives from the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia, was intended to discuss potential peace initiatives that could head off the Palestinian UN bid.

But the talks ended with no joint statement and no action plan, a sign the grouping remains divided on how to move forward.

The Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table without a freeze on settlement construction and clear parameters for new talks, including that any borders will be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, with mutually agreed land swaps.

But Israel has rejected any new settlement moratorium, and says setting preconditions for talks prejudges the substance of negotiations.

The stalemate has left the Palestinians more determined to seek UN membership at a meeting of the General Assembly in September, despite Washington's explicit opposition to the move.

"We have been told by the Americans many times that they'll use a veto at the Security Council against our bid for admittance and we were told that at the General Assembly if we pursue that line at there'll be consequences," Erakat said.

"Without Security Council approval, we cannot get admittance by the General Assembly," he said, adding the Palestinians could however seek to have their status upgraded to a non-member state by the General Assembly.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is scheduled to meet on Thursday in Qatar with Arab representatives to discuss the legal aspects of the UN bid.

The Palestinians have insisted they do not see the plan as contradicting new peace talks.

But Erakat said he did not believe the Israeli government would agree to set parameters for negotiations, or accept using the pre-Six Day War lines as the basis for negotiations.

"I don't think we'll hear this from this government," he said.

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