UK sets conditions for Palestinian statehood backing

UK sets conditions for Palestinian statehood backing
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Denmark and Switzerland have joined the list of several European countries backing Mahmoud Abbas’ bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN.

The president is in New York ahead of the Special General Assembly which is to consider giving the Palestinians “non-member observer status”. Abbas has pledged to relaunch the peace process with Israel immediately the vote is passed.

But the Palestinians are rejecting conditions demanded by Britain in return for its support – including a commitment not to join the International Criminal Court, in case Israel is pursued for war crimes.

British Foreign Secretary Willliam Hague told the House of Commons:
“We explained that while there is no question of the United Kingdom voting against the resolution, in order to vote for it, we would need certain assurances or amendments. First, the Palestinian Authority should indicate a clear commitment to return immediately to negotiations without pre-conditions.”

France is supporting the Palestinians’ case. The Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the National Assembly the move was consistent with the country’s long-term position and in line with President Hollande’s election commitment.

Spain is also set to vote in favour but Germany says it is opposed. Israel and the US also condemn the bid at the UN, saying the only genuine route to Palestinian statehood is via a peace accord negotiated directly with Israel.

Talks have stalled for two years mainly over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The Palestinians remain determined:
“We are moving ahead, Israel, the U.S. and a handful of countries will find themselves on the wrong side of morality, on the wrong side of justice and on the wrong side of the law,” said PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi.

The Palestinians’ UN observer says they will not go running to the International Court should they achieve the diplomatic upgrade.

Israel dismisses the UN move, arguing it will change nothing on the ground.

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