by Elad Benari
More than 100 members of the European Parliament have urged the European Union and its member countries to discourage the Palestinian Authority from seeking a unilateral recognition at the UN of an independent state, The Associated Press reported.
The 106 parliamentarians addressed a letter on Monday to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in which they argued that issues between the PA and Israel can be resolved only through negotiations.
“It is precisely because we believe in the justness of the Palestinian cause that we urge them to refrain from seeking a UN recognition of a unilaterally declared state, a counterproductive step we fear could set back the chances for peace,” said the letter, which was signed by members of the European Parliament representing a range of parties.
The letter echoes sentiments expressed last month by the President of the EU parliament, Jerzy Buzek, who said that a unilateral move by the Palestinian Authority toward statehood could be “dangerous.”
Buzek made the comments during a meeting in Ramallah with the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad. Buzek said he “understood” the PA’s position on statehood, but added that it could complicate peace efforts.
Meanwhile, AP reported that the PA has not decided whether to apply to the UN General Assembly or the Security Council first. The report was based on a 25-page “work plan” the news agency obtained on Monday.
The paper, prepared by negotiator Saeb Erekat, lays out the options for gaining recognition of a state and notes that if the Security Council does not approve its membership, the fallback position would be obtaining non-member state status. The paper also notes that the application to the General Assembly would have to be submitted by the end of July. Erekat suggests broad discussions with Arab nations and others over how to proceed.
Last week, it was reported that the UN Security Council plans to discuss the possibility of Palestine becoming a United Nations member state in an “open debate” scheduled for July 26.
German Ambassador Peter Wittig, UN Security Council president, said the debate “will be an occasion to explore the various options that might exist on the Palestinian side.”
The United States has publicly said it would be a mistake for PA Arabs to create their country through an appeal to the United Nations, insisting such a state must be achieved through peace negotiations.
The U.S. has been trying to get Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table, but the PA has sent a list of four preconditions, insisting that it would not agree to renew negotiations unless Israel and the European Union agreed to meet every one of its demands.
These demands include a complete halt to all Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem, an agreement that the 1949 Armistice lines with mutually-agreed land swaps are the basis for talks, European Union support for PA reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas, and EU support for a PA declaration of statehood in the UN.
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