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Monday, August 1, 2011     GET REAL

Palestinian Authority changes plan will only apply for UN membership

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority plans to seek membership from the United Nations.


Officials said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has approved a revised plan for the UN General Assembly in September. They said the plan now calls for the PA to request membership in the UN without formal international recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"We are not going to the United Nations to demand recognition of Palestinian state, but for membership in the United Nations," Azzam Al Ahmed, an aide of Abbas, said.

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Ahmed, a former PA minister and member of the Fatah Central Committee, said the Abbas regime expected the United States to veto the Palestinian request. But he said the PA would proceed with the request in an attempt to mobilize support for eventual recognition of statehood.

"They, including President Barack Obama, threatened us personally," Al Ahmed told the London-based daily Al Hayat on July 25. "But we did not turn back. We went to the UN and that was a blow to the U.S. administration."

Congress has been mulling legislation that would link U.S. aid to the PA to a commitment not to seek statehood at the UN or form a government with Hamas. The bill was approved by the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Foreign Operations on July 27 and would include $513 million in aid for the PA in fiscal 2012.

Officials said the PA was hoping that the General Assembly would approve a request to grant observer status to "the state of Palestine." Currently, only the Palestine Liberation Organization has observer status at the assembly from a vote in 1975.

Al Ahmed said the PA and Fatah were hoping that the UN would designate the West Bank an occupied country rather than territory. He said China has already pledged to support the PA drive in the General Assembly.

"There is a difference between an occupied country and the disputed territories, as some believe," Al Ahmed said.

Al Ahmed did not rule out PA support for another war against Israel. He said Abbas has been encouraging what Al Ahmed turned "popular resistance."

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] is not against the resistance, does not deny the right of the Palestinian people to resistance in all forms, but according to the timing and circumstances," Al Ahmed said.

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