THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Palestinians to seek UN statehood approval in September

Abbas says he will take petition to General Assembly

APPEALING TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians will not agree to an independent state with temporary borders. APPEALING TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians will not agree to an independent state with temporary borders.
By Nayla Razzouk
Bloomberg News / April 19, 2011

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AMMAN, Jordan — The Palestinians will seek the recognition of the United Nations for an independent state in September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday.

While UN Security Council permission for a Palestinian state might be blocked by veto-wielding permanent members such as the United States, approval by the UN General Assembly would be legally binding, Abbas said in an interview with Al Arabiya television. Israel still might try to block recognition by lobbying the US Congress, he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will cooperate with a Palestinian state only if it is established through direct negotiations with Israel’s government. The Palestinians had expressed hope that peace negotiations with Israel would be concluded by September, though with talks snagged for the past seven months, they are now exploring the prospect of international recognition for statehood via the UN.

“If the negotiations are halted, where should we go?’’ Abbas said. “We are seeking the international community’’ to help establish a Palestinian state. The Palestinians won’t agree to an independent state with temporary borders, he said.

Abbas said that Salam Fayyad, Palestinian Authority prime minister, will form a new Cabinet within 10 days. The previous government resigned Feb. 14 following anti-government street protests inspired by pro-democracy demonstrations across the Middle East.

Abbas, whose administration rules in the West Bank, said he was ready to travel to the Gaza Strip for reconciliation talks with the Islamic Hamas movement that controls the enclave.

Presidential and legislative elections, which the Palestinian Authority has vowed to hold by September, cannot be held without the participation of Hamas, he said. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union.

Fayyad started a project in August to strengthen government institutions such as the security forces and the tax-collection authority in preparation for statehood, setting a two-year goal for completion.

The institutions are prepared for statehood and have won a positive reception from international institutions, including the World Bank, Abbas said.

In Washington, President Obama and Netanyahu discussed the Middle East peace process and violence in the Gaza Strip during a telephone conversation yesterday.

Obama also extended best wishes to Netanyahu before the start of Passover. The weeklong holiday began last night with a traditional seder. Obama also was hosting a seder at the White House for the third straight year.

In Israel, President Shimon Peres marked the day by visiting the parents of captive soldier Gilad Schalit in their protest tent outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.

“I am convinced we will see Gilad return home alive,’’ Peres told the family. “It pains me and it pains every person in Israel that Gilad is still not with us.’’

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