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Arab League backs Palestinian plan to upgrade UN status

The Arab League decides to go to the UN to seek non-member state status for Palestine, negotiator Saeb Erakat said

AFP , Monday 23 Jul 2012
Palestinians take part in a candle light rally to show support for the Palestinian bid for full United Nations membership this month, outside the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, September 15, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
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Arab foreign ministers have backed Palestinian plans to seek an upgrade to their status at the United Nations to that of a non-member state, Palestinian officials said.

But no decision was taken on when the application would be made, with the Arab League postponing such a decision until its next meeting in Cairo on September 5, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP late on Sunday.

The UN membership question was one of several issues raised at a meeting in Qatar of the Arab League's Follow Up Committee on the peace process on Sunday night, which was also attended by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

"The Arabs decided to go to the UN to seek non-member state status for Palestine," Erakat told AFP by phone from Doha late on Sunday.

"It has been agreed that we will start preparing the legal, procedural and political file relating to the Palestinian application for non-state membership," he said.

He said ministers had approved plans to begin consultations with UN groupings such as the European Union, the African Group, the Non-Aligned Movement and the South American bloc "in order to obtain their support for the Palestinian demand."

A statement from the Follow Up Committee said it supported Abbas's plan and the diplomatic efforts to obtain non-state membership for Palestine.

Last year, Abbas formally presented a Palestinian request for full state membership at the UN in a move which angered Israel and the United States which say a state can only arise out of a negotiated peace settlement.

The request was stalled at the Security Council, whose 15 members were divided over the move, and where the United States had threatened to use its veto to block the application.

In light of the stalemate, Abbas has said he would seek to upgrade the Palestinian representation at the UN to that of a non-member state in a move which would only require a simple majority in the General Assembly and is certain to pass easily.

Direct peace talks have been frozen for nearly two years, with the sides mired in a thorny dispute over Israel's settlement policies.

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