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Sun 11 Sep 2011 12:35 PM

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US veto of UN bid will damage Arab relations, PLO leader says

It is not in 'interests of peace' if Palestine's bid for UN statehood is vetoed, Hanan Ashrawi says

US veto of UN bid will damage Arab relations, PLO leader says
Ashrawi has also called on the other members of the Quartet to use their influence to help Palestine’s cause and not to be influenced by the US (Getty Images)

A move by the US to veto Palestine’s bid to seek full UN membership will damage its standing in the Arab world, a leading Palestinian politician involved in the discussions told Arabian Business.

This month Palestine is expected to apply for full United Nations membership in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

The US is expected to use its veto power in the Security Council to block the move, which it sees as unhelpful to its efforts to bring about a negotiated end to the conflict through the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

“[A veto by the US] will weaken its standing in the Arab World, particularly as they want to be welcomed by the Arab Spring,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

“We are trying to tell the US that it is not in its own interest or the interests of peace to veto that type of request… It is a right that is enshrined in international law because we have the right to self determination under the UN charter after all,” she added.

Facing the prospect of a US veto, the Palestinians are also planning to seek a General Assembly resolution upgrading their UN status to that of a non-member state. Not requiring Security Council approval, that is expected to pass.

“There will be a popular movement in support of our move to go to the UN and solidarity movement as well within the Arab World and we are hoping that we will accumulate even more recognition from individual states,” Ashrawi said.

She has also called on the other members of the Quartet, the entity set up to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and made up of the foursome of the UN, the US, the European Union and Russia, to use their influence to help Palestine’s cause and not to be influenced by the US.

“I think the Quartet is run exclusively by Washington… We are right now in discussions with the members of the Quartet in order for them to take their own policies seriously, the EU and the UN.

“The Quartet has been, in many ways, sidelined by the US, diverted by the US and we believe that they must step up and they must decide to take their own policies seriously and their own commitments and we are working on this with them,” she added.

While no exact date has been set for the application to be submitted, it is expected to occur during Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' visit to New York this month. This year's 66th General Assembly meetings are set to open officially on September 13 with high-level meetings of world leaders expected to start on September 20.