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Palestinians won't accept less than full U.N. seat
Thursday 3 November 2011.|
The Palestinians will not accept anything less than full United Nations membership and do not want an upgrade to an observer state in the world body, the foreign minister said Thursday.
Riyad al-Malki's remarks suggested the Palestinians would not seek such an upgrade once their bid for full state membership meets its widely expected fate -- failure due to opposition from the United States and other governments.
Speaking to journalists in Ramallah, Malki said the Palestinians could have secured observer state status long ago and were not interested in it now.
They currently hold the status of an observer entity at the United Nations.
"We do not want, after all of these struggles, sacrifices, and efforts by the entire Palestinian people, to accept an observer state in the United Nations. We will not accept less than we deserve: a full member state," he said.
If the Palestinian leadership, confronted by the failure of its bid for full membership, fails to seek the enhanced status of an "observer state," analysts said it would represent a retreat.
But they said Malki's remarks may not reflect the path President Mahmoud Abbas may take should the membership bid fail.
"This reads like a tactical move. It could be directed toward the Americans, the Israelis, to show flexibility, but I would not view it as a final position," said George Giacaman, a political analyst.
The Palestinian bid for statehood recognition in the U.N. system has drawn fierce criticism and sanctions from the United States and Israel, which in 1967 captured territory the Palestinians now seek for an independent country.
The U.S. Congress has frozen some $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority over its statehood quest.
Israel this week froze duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in response to its admission to the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO.
Malki said for now the Palestinians would not seek to join more U.N. agencies as a full member.
"At this moment, we are not concerned with applying for membership for Palestine in the rest of the international organizations," he said.
UNESCO's vote in favor of Palestinian membership triggered an automatic cutoff in U.S. funding to the agency under U.S. law.
The idea of the Palestinians joining more international agencies had raised the prospect of bodies such as the World Health Organization also losing their U.S. funding.
"The official Palestinian position is to concentrate only on the request for membership which we presented to the United Nations," Malki said.
President Abbas applied for full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine on September 23 during the General Assembly in New York.
That request is currently being considered in the Security Council.
Its fate will likely be decided on or around November 11.
But the United States has already pledged to use its Security Council veto if the application is brought to a vote.
Both the United States and Israel argue the Palestinian push in the United Nations is unilateral and an attempt to bypass peace talks, whose resumption Abbas has conditioned on an Israeli freeze of settlement activity in occupied territory.
The Palestinians say those negotiations have failed to bring them closer to the independent state they seek in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
They say it is time to try a different approach.
The last round of peace talks collapsed last year.
Faced with the prospect of a U.S. veto, officials in Ramallah have said the Palestinians could seek an upgrade in their status to a "non-member state" -- an idea also suggested by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Such an upgrade could be won through a resolution in the General Assembly.
There, the Palestinians would likely glean the kind of support that secured their UNESCO membership.
The Palestinians would then enjoy status equal to the Vatican and secure the all-important title of a state.
Addressing what would happen if they fail in their bid for full U.N. membership, Malki said: "We will repeat this experiment a second time, a third time and a fourth time until we reach that membership. We will not accept less than it."
Echoing Washington, Israel said Thursday it would also halt funding to UNESCO over the cultural agency's decision to grant the Palestinians full membership.