Palestinians Push for U.N. Recognition, Despite Calls for Talks with Israel

Jerusalem, July 19 - Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat are pushing ahead with their diplomatic campaign for recognition of Palestinians statehood at the United Nations in September despite the Middle East Quartet’s repeated requests that they choose peace talks instead.

Erekat said that the campaign will first seek recognition of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and then try to gain membership of the U.N. as a full member state.

He also told a London-based Arabic language newspaper that they would proceed with the plan to seek full U.N. membership “even if the peace talks with Israel are revived before September,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Erekat called the initiative “massive” and added that it is “being spearheaded by Fatah parliamentary bloc leader Azzam Ahmad and Palestine People's Party representative Bassam Salhi, who will travel to China to lobby support,” Israel’s Haaretz reported.

They will likely raise the issue in the U.N.’s General Assembly rather than the U.N.’s Security Council because the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy oppose the PA’s diplomatic maneuver.

Israel contends that the diplomatic campaign is not in the interest of a permanent and stable two-state solution because borders between the West Bank and Israel and issues of water, refugees and shared infrastructure would remain unresolved. Israel cites improvements in the Palestinian economy and security as tangible outcomes of existing cooperation.

The U.S. and EU-recognized terror organization, Hamas, said it opposes the PA’s plan and said “it had not been consulted about it” - despite the fact that Hamas and the PA signed a reconciliation pact in May.

“Hamas is a Foreign Terrorist Organization that calls Bin Laden a ‘holy warrior,’ remains determined to destroy Israel, and is responsible for the deaths of Israelis and Americans,” said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who chairs the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a recent media statement.

Israel views the Hamas-Fatah warming an obstacle to peace insomuch as Hamas continues to state that its main goal is the eradication of Israel.

“Now, Hamas will be a part of the Palestinian Authority, without having to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, or accept previous agreements,” the Ros-Lehtinen added.

At a recent Congressional hearing in Washington, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jacob Walles said: “The direct path to a two-state solution for a Palestinian state is the path of direct negotiations.”

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