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UK Confirms Abstention for PA Statehood Bid

Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed the UK would neither support nor oppose the PA statehood bid at the UN
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/9/2011, 5:50 PM

British Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed the UK would abstain in the UN Security Council should the Palestinian Authority application for statehood be brought to a vote, AFP reported Wednesday.

"In common with France and in consultation with our European partners, the United Kingdom will abstain on any vote on full Palestinian membership of the UN," Hague told Britain's parliament just days after France said it would abstain.

"We reserve the right to recognize a Palestinian state bilaterally at a moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace," he added.

Hague said Britain would "continue to be one of the principal supporters of Palestinian state-building efforts, assisting them to tackle poverty, build institutions and boost their economy."

Britain is a permanent member of the 15-member Security Council, which must approve the PA request for statehood recognition along pre-1967 lines before it can proceed to the General Assembly for a vote.

The PA application would require 9 affirmative recommendations in the Security Council with none of the five permanent members filing a negative recommendation.

However, the United States has vowed to submit a negative recommendation, rendering the PA application a dead letter.

Efforts by officials Ramallah to secure 9 positive votes in spite of US opposition - widely regarded as an attempt to punish the Obama administration for opposing them via embarrassment - have proven ineffectual.

Hague's statement to Britain's parliament was largely seen as confirmation of a position observers had already deduced for themselves - but also validates analysts' conclusions the PA statehood bid is now moribund.

PA officials themselves balefully conceded they had failed to garner enough support for the bid on Wednesday.

The admission of defeat comes just one week after officials in Ramallah stood down for moves to join 16 UN organizations in the wake of the United States freezing its contributions to UNESCO after the UN body admitted the PA as a full member state.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon withdrew his support for the PA membership drive when it became apparent the US would stop paying dues to any UN body supported Ramallah's unilateral track at the world body.

US funds underwrite 22% of the United Nations annual budget - and 27% of its annual peace keeping costs.