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Mixed PA Signals on Bid for UN Recognition

Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat insists the entity will not defer its bid for United Nations recognition in September.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 8/10/2011, 10:39 AM

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority is sending out mixed signals on what it intends to do next month, depending upon the language one speaks and reads.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Saeb Erekat has told the Jordan News Agency the PA does not intend to defer its unilateral bid for recognition as a new country by the United Nations in September. The statement was made in Arabic.

Erekat, who also serves as the PA's chief negotiator, issued the denial this week. He told the JNA after meetings with U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein and Spanish Consul General Alfonso Portable the entity still intends to ask the UN for membership in the General Assembly.

As has PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, Erekat also insisted there is no contradiction between a bid for UN recognition as a new country, and a return to negotiations with Israel over the points that would determine the parameters for such recognition.

Erekat, who last week spurned an offer by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resume talks based on the PA demands for borders based on the pre-1967 lines -- the 1949 Armistice lines -- said instead the PA would simply go straight to the United Nations to determine its status, bypassing negotiations with Israel for the time being. He called on the United States and European Union to pressure Israel to cease all construction in Judea, Samaria and areas of Jerusalem demanded by the PA for the formation of its hoped-for state – and to urge Israel to accept the “two state solution.”

Different Signals
However, even as Erekat was insisting the United Nations bid would go through, PLO Council Member and former PA Information Minister Nabil Amr expressed doubt over the plan.

Amr told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper in an interview late last month that he was advising Abbas to reconsider the move. The interview was translated into English and posted on numerous Internet websites. 

“I personally will advise the leadership to delay the UN bid by another year so that we will be able to make better preparations than what has been done until now,” he said.

Amr warned the PA risks losing many close friends if its proceeds with the plan. “The Americans have not hidden their position and threats to impose sanctions not only against us, but also against those who would vote in favor of the statehood plan,” he pointed out. “On the face of it, this is an immoral issue. But in essence it would cause us some damage.”