UN statehood bid to go on even with peace talks: Abbas

AFP , Saturday 22 Oct 2011

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas argue that there is no conflict between resuming the peace talk negotiations with Israel and pushing for the statehood bid in UN

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he would push for statehood at the United Nations even if he resumes peace negotiations with Israel, Egyptian state media reported on Saturday.

Abbas, who was in Cairo for meetings with Egypt's leadership, said he would "immediately" resume talks with Israel if it accepted a Middle East Quartet statement from last month, MENA said.

He said that for the talks to resume, Israel must accept the borders of a future Palestinian state along the lines which existed before the 1967 Middle East war.

The Quartet, made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, urged the two sides to return to talks within a month, with the goal of reaching a deal before the end of 2012.

It said the negotiations should be based on UN resolutions and previous agreements between Israel and Palestinians that commit Israel to completely freeze settlement construction, which it refuses to do.

Israel welcomed the Quartet's statement but had some "concerns" about it.

But Abbas, who launched a campaign at the United Nations in September to seek Palestinian membership as a state because talks with Israel were stalled, said the campaign would go ahead even if the talks resumed.

Abbas "affirmed that he would not withdraw his application at the United Nations even if negotiations resumed," MENA reported. "We have submitted the application and we will stick to it until the end."

Quartet envoys are to meet separately in Jerusalem next Wednesday with Israeli and Palestinian representatives as they seek a way forward on peace talks.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week accused Israel of undermining peace efforts by deciding to build a new settlement in annexed east Jerusalem.

And UN chief Ban Ki-moon has accused Israel of provoking the international community by approving new settlements in Palestinian territories at a time when efforts were being made to jumpstart the peace talks.

The United Nations considers Jewish settlements in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem as illegal, but Palestinians had agreed in previous talks to allow Israel to hold on to major blocs in land swaps.

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