Israel's PM to address UN on Palestinian bid

AFP , Thursday 15 Sep 2011

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said that 'the right thing to do' is address the UN General Assembly to argue against the Palestinian bid for membership

Israel
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, (Reuters).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would address the United Nations next week to set out Israel's objections to the Palestinians' bid for membership of the world body.


"Israel wants peace, and for the past two-and-a-half years has been attempting to conduct negotiations," Netanyahu said at a joint press conference with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas.


"We know that peace is dependent on recognition and security. These needs arise in light of the recent upheavals in the Middle East, which affect us," he said.


"I decided to bring this message in a speech that I shall make to the General Assembly of the UN to which I shall travel next week," he said. "I thought that the right thing to do would be to talk to the United Nations, tell them things as they are.


"The General Assembly is not a place where Israel usually gets a fair hearing," Netanyahu said. "But I think that it's important that the Israeli prime minister attends, to bring the Israeli message to the world."


Israel and the United States are implacably opposed to the Palestinian initiative, saying that only a peace deal negotiated between the sides will work.


Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said earlier Thursday that the Palestinians would submit their UN bid on September 23 but are willing to listen to other ideas in the meantime.


Envoys from the United States, the European Union and the diplomatic Quartet have been holding 11th-hour talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders in an effort to get them back into direct peace talks that stalled a year ago.


"We will see if any of them is carrying a credible offer that will allow us to look into it seriously," Malki told foreign journalists in Ramallah.


"Otherwise, on the 23rd at 12.30 (Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas) will submit the application."


So far, 127 countries have already recognised a Palestinian state based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, including Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.


Some hardline Israeli ministers are calling for Israel to annex chunks of the West Bank if the Palestinians go ahead with their play for UN membership.


Hardline Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Wednesday there would be "harsh and grave consequences" if the Palestinians persist with their plan to seek UN membership as a state. He did not elaborate on the possible consequences.


In the past he has called for Israel to sever all relations with the administration of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas should it press on with its UN bid.


"What I can say with the greatest confidence is that from the moment they pass a unilateral decision there will be harsh and grave consequences," Lieberman told an agricultural conference in southern Israel.

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