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28 Sep, 2011 18:49

Israeli provocations continue as UN considers Palestinian bid

A week after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas submitted his people’s application for statehood to the UN, the bid has been passed to an expert committee for consideration. Meanwhile Israel’s settlement program questions the peace in the West Bank.

The United Nations Security Council has handed over the Palestinian bid for UN membership to an expert committee specially established for the application’s consideration on Thursday. The first session is to take place on Friday. The process is to take no longer than 35 days, reports RT's Marina Portnaya. During this time the application has to be assessed and reviewed. So far, about six UN Security Council members have pledged on record to support the Palestinian bid. A total of nine out of 15 votes “for” in the Security Council are needed to let the application go through, with no veto being cast at the same time. However, the US has vowed to veto the bid if it goes to a vote. US President Barack Obama says the only way for statehood to become a reality is the return to negotiations with Israel. This makes many experts believe the Abbas campaign is doomed to failure. A real holiday feeling filled the West Bank as the historic application was handed in to the UN by the Palestinian leader. Meanwhile, Israel’s settlement plans in the West Bank still threaten the very possibility of any kind of peace in the region. This only makes it harder for the Middle East Quartet to mediate the negotiations. Condemnation has been coming from the international community over the expansion of Israeli settlements. Russia hopes it will be revised. Even Washington, the strongest ally of Tel Aviv, has voiced its criticism of the plan. Some critics say the Israeli settlements are nothing but a violation the international law, RT’s Portnaya reports. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel has stated his country has a right to build houses, and people in Israel view this as a gift for the Jewish New Year. Mahmoud Abbas in turn insists there would be no direct talks with Israel until the settlements are demolished.

Dr Bassem Ezbidi, a political scientist at the Birzeit University in Ramallah, told RT the US is unlikely to exercise its veto as they had promised earlier.“The US will not use the veto unless they really have to do that. The US will first try to exert some pressure upon the other members. A US veto will have disastrous consequences in the region. The Middle East is boiling and the last thing the US wants to have is another wave of hatred aimed at Americans,” he stated.The Middle East Quartet set a deadline of the end of 2012 for Israel and the Palestinians to reach agreement. But neither side appears to be in a hurry to get to the negotiating table. According to Ezbidi, the Palestinians have taken the issue to the international community through the UN and need assurances so that they really come back to the negotiating table.“The quartet, as well as the European block, is not offering much. The Palestinians are asking to that the question of settlements is resolved. As long as the issue is not addressed either by the quartet or by the Europeans and the US, the Palestinians will not be able to go back to negotiations,” he concluded.

Israeli actions speak louder than announcements’ – Palestinian envoy to UN

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, has commented on Israel's plans to expand settlements in East Jerusalem, saying they simply demonstrate that Tel Aviv isn't inclined to negotiate for peace.“This illegal action by the Israeli government, the occupying power, of responding to the international community and to the quartet, which have been asking them to abide by the obligations under international law and the roadmap, which called for the freeze of settlement,” he told RT. “The fact that they are announcing these days this illegal step is an indication that they are not interested in honoring what the quartet is proposing or the international community, or abiding by their obligation under international law. Therefore they are not interested in negotiating peace. Although they say they want to negotiate peace without conditions, they are imposing all these conditions, and their actions speak louder than their announcement of their desire to negotiate peace.”