Palestinian state: Still gearing up for the UN in September

Dina Ezzat , Saturday 28 May 2011

The chief of the cabinet of the Arab League secretary general says that despite Obama’s recent warning, the Arabs are determined to pursue UN support for a Palestinian state

Palestinian flags
Palestinian flags (Photo: Reuters)

“US President (Barack) Obama expressed his position, but our position is different; our position is that we are going to solicit UN support for the declaration and establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the occupied Palestinian territories,” said Hesham Youssef, chief of the cabinet of the Arab League secretary-general.

Speaking to Ahram Online from Doha, venue of a limited Arab foreign ministers meeting on the future of the Palestinian state, Youssef also dismissed statements made late last night, Middle East time, by Joseph Dice, current chairman of the UN General Assembly, where he said that the UN cannot acknowledge a new member state without the full support of the UN Security Council.

“Again, this is not our position. We are determined to go to the UN in September,” Youssef said.

For Youssef, it is not untypical for the Arab Group in the UN to act in defiance of Western stances. This, he says, they did before when they solicited international condemnation of Israel’s construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and when they asked the international community to denounce Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity.

After all, Youssef argues, in view of the “excessively negative positions expressed by Israeli Prime Minister (Binyamin) Netanyahu on the parameters for possible negotiations, we absolutely had no alternative but to seek the intervention of the UN”.

The Arab League has expressed dismay over a statement made by Netanyahu before the US Congress a few days ago where he declined to go along by any of erstwhile basic parameters for a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian cause. Netanyahu pledged no return to the 1967 borders, no return of Palestinian refugees, no negotiations on Jerusalem, and no negotiations with a Palestinian unity government inclusive of Hamas.

Speaking shortly before the opening of the Doha meeting in which Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will participate, Youssef said the issue was already examined in a meeting between Moussa and Abbas earlier in the day and that the ministerial meeting would look into “the details of the steps to be taken in the weeks ahead” leading to September, when the UN General Assembly will convene.

According to Youssef these steps will be partly political, in view of a keen Arab effort to solicit the support of as many countries as possible for the recognition and establishment of a Palestinian state, and partly legal. “We need to examine the details of certain steps from a legal perspective,” Youssef said.

A review of the situation on the ground will be offered to participating ministers by Abbas, and a review of an encounter between Obama and Moussa on the fringes of the G8 meetings yesterday in France will be shared by the Arab League secretary general.

The Doha meeting is scheduled to open at around 5:00 GMT. It is expected to last for about four hours and to be followed by a press conference. A communiqué is expected after the meeting.

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