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Palestinians to renew U.N. statehood drive next month (REUTERS) By Ali Sawafta RAMALLAH, West Bank 08/04/12 9:35am EDT) Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/04/us-palestinians-israel-statehood-idUSBRE8730A420120804
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(Reuters) - The Palestinians will next month renew a bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations, their foreign minister said on Saturday, a move which could strengthen their statehood claims after talks with Israel stalled.
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Palestinians are listed as a U.N. observer "entity" with no voting rights. They will ask to be made a non-member observer state at the U.N. General Assembly on September 27, Foreign Minister Riyad al- Malki told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
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Such status, akin to the Vatican´s, would be an indirect recognition of their claims on statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. It would allow them to join a number of U.N. agencies, as well as the International Criminal Court.
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The Palestinians say Israeli settlement-building on occupied West Bank land has stymied prospects for a bilateral statehood deal. Disagreement over the issue led to negotiations stalling in 2010.
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Malki said President Mahmoud Abbas would make the status request in a speech and the Palestinians would then lobby for support among U.N. member states, many of which are sympathetic to the campaign and regard the West Bank settlements as illegal.
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"When we are sure we have won absolute support from the largest possible number of states, we will be ready to request that the General Assembly vote on such a draft resolution," Malki said.
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A simple majority vote in the 193-member General Assembly would be enough to bestow non-member observer status, bypassing the Security Council - where the United States, Israel´s ally, has a veto.
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"We are looking forward to getting 180 votes," Malki said. "We will become a non-member (observer) state in 2012."
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Once that was achieved, he said, the Palestinians would pursue full U.N. membership. However that would require approval by the Security Council - and Washington.
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"This an ongoing struggle that will not stop and which we will continue to the end," Malki said.
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A similar campaign by the Palestinians last year proved short-lived amid opposition from Israel and the United States, which said a Palestinian state should be founded in agreement with Israel.
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Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as its capital - a move not recognized abroad - and says it would annex swathes of West Bank settlements under any eventual peace deal. It unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
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Israeli officials had no immediate response to Malki´s announcement. Previously, Israel has accused Abbas´s government of trying to evade negotiations which would entail territorial compromise and that he reassert control over Gaza, which he lost in 2007 to Hamas Islamists.
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Malki´s remarks appeared to signal the Palestinians might put off the General Assembly vote at the United Nations until after the U.S. election in November, in the run-up to which President Barack Obama would be mindful of his pro-Israel constituency.
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Geoffrey Anisman, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Israel, reiterated the Obama administration´s call on Palestinians to pursue direct negotiations with Israel.
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"We believe that one-sided actions at the U.N. will not produce progress or secure statehood for the Palestinians, and our message to the Palestinians remains the same," he said.
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Palestinians have made a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem a condition for returning to peace talks. Israel cites biblical and historical ties to the areas and says the issue of settlements should be decided through negotiations. (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Pravin Char) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 08/04/12)
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