RAMALLAH, WEST BANK: The Palestinian foreign minister, Mr Riad Malki says he will seek United Nations recognition for a Palestinian state in September and is currently lobbying for votes worldwide.
The move is part of the Palestinians’ so-called Plan B of pursuing an alternative to a negotiated peace deal while talks with Israel remain stalled. Mr Riad Malki’s announcement on Sunday followed Chile’s recognition of Palestine, making it the fifth South American country to do so recently.
While a majority for Palestine in the General Assembly seems possible, recognition by the Security Council – whose decisions are legally binding – would likely face an American veto.
The September target date has the month shaping up to be a crucial one for the Palestinians. It also marks the time frame for the US President, Mr Barack Obama’s goal of reaching a peace deal and the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr Salam Fayyad’s hope of having the foundations of the future state ready. Mr Fayyad has acknowledged that the recognition drive at the UN will not necessarily bring realization of a state. But it helps the Palestinians enshrine their demand that the 1967 borders serve as the basis for drawing their nation’s shape.
The Palestinians want their state in the lands Israel captured in the Mideast war that year – the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
“Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another state that is recognized within the ‘67 borders by the international organization,” Mr Malki, the foreign minister, told mediapersons in Ramallah.
He said the Palestinian Authority is working to attain as much recognition as possible for a state by September, when it will call for a UN vote. It will initially seek Security Council recognition but, failing that, will turn to the General Assembly, where the decisions are not binding but there is no veto.
The Palestinians have made South America a priority. Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador recognized Palestinian statehood last month, and Uruguay, Paraguay and Peru are expected to join Chile on that list in the coming weeks.
Mr Malki said Asia, Africa and the Caribbean were next in line.
The Palestinians appear to have a majority in the General Assembly, but are unlikely to get the go-ahead in the Security Council.
The US routinely vetoes measures Israel considers hostile, and the US House of Representatives last week passed a resolution “condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state.”
Israeli officials have called the recognition declarations meaningless and counterproductive to the peace process. The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr Benjamin Netanyahu opposes withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, though he says he remains committed to negotiating a partition of the land.