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Palestinians seek support for UN action

PLANS FOR STATEHOOD Foreign minister Riad Malki is part of the Palestinian effort to gain support among the 192-member General Assembly. PLANS FOR STATEHOOD
Foreign minister Riad Malki is part of the Palestinian effort to gain support among the 192-member General Assembly.
By Mohammed Daraghmeh
Associated Press / June 28, 2011

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian delegations will make the rounds of nearly a dozen countries to try to build support for their bid to have the United Nations recognize a Palestinian state, senior officials said yesterday.

Palestinian officials will visit Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries that have not yet endorsed the Palestinian plan for recognition, said Hana Amireh, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision-making Executive Committee.

Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, said all Palestinian ambassadors would meet in Madrid in early July to discuss how to approach all-important European Union member states, whose support would be crucial to giving the plan diplomatic heft.

Malki said Palestinian ambassadors had been instructed to not be absent from their offices or take vacations “because of the importance of the coming period.’’

The statehood campaign was born out of the long deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the Palestinian conviction that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is not serious about making peace.

On Sunday, the West Bank Palestinian leadership formally decided to seek UN recognition in September of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed his willingness to resume talks immediately but rejects the Palestinian condition that Israel first halt all Jewish settlement construction in areas the Palestinians seek for a future state.

UN General Assembly recognition of a Palestinian state would carry diplomatic weight but no legal clout. Only the UN Security Council can add a nation to the world body, and the United States has signaled it would veto such a resolution. Israel, too, opposes the unilateral campaign.

The Palestinians hope to win the support of a majority in the 192-member General Assembly at the United Nations.

In a separate development yesterday, organizers of an international flotilla to Gaza accused Israel of pressuring Greece to stall their departure and acknowledged they still faced hurdles in their efforts to sail from Greek waters.

Several hundred activists are planning to board 10 Gaza-bound boats, including two cargo vessels carrying aid, despite warnings from Israel that it would thwart any attempt to breach its sea blockade of the Palestinian territory.

A year ago, a similar mission ended with a botched raid by Israeli commandos that killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel.

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