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Monday, June 13, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Abbas fears UN Security Council will veto Palestinian state

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority has become anxious over the prospect of failure in its bid for the unilateral establishment of a state in 2011.


Officials said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has become increasingly frustrated with the quiet international opposition to unilateral statehood. They said Abbas and his advisers were told by the United States and members of the European Union that the PA quest would be stymied in the United Nations Security Council.

"If this bid fails, the PA will lose credibility," an official said. "The president [Abbas] is aware of this."

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At the same time, Abbas has sought to purge Fatah of prominent critics. On June 12, Fatah was said to have expelled Central Committee member Mohammed Dahlan, a former PA security chief. Palestinian sources said the PA has also shut down dissident websites linked to Fatah members.

[On June 12, Hamas reiterated its opposition to the continuation of Salam Fayad as prime minister of the PA, Middle East Newsline reported. Hamas said Fayad must be replaced by a technocrat not linked to the rival Fatah movement.]

But the officials said Abbas has rejected the prospect that the PA would withdraw its bid for international recognition of a Palestinian state. They said Abbas has determined that the PA could not back down without a loss of face.

Officials said the PA has been reassured that the bid for unilateral statehood in the West Bank would be supported by an overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly in September. But they said Abbas has been warned that the United States would veto the proposal in the Security Council.

In June, Abbas sent senior PA officials, including Saeb Erekat, to Washington for consultations with the administration of President Barack Obama. The administration also discussed Palestinian statehood with envoys of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Officials said Washington has urged the PA to resume negotiations with Israel as a face-saving measure that would avoid the unilateral declaration of statehood. They said Abbas, under increasing pressure from critics within Fatah, was not ruling out negotiations but would submit a membership request to the UN in July.

Abbas has sought U.S. guarantees that Obama would insist on his formula for the establishment of a Palestinian state in 2012. The president has urged Israel to allow the Palestinians a state and later negotiate such issues as Jerusalem as well as the demand for millions of Palestinians to return to the homes of their ancestors.

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