In a refutation of comments attributed to him earlier in the day, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki denied Monday that the Palestinian leadership had suspended its UN bid for statehood until the completion of nuclear talks with Iran, insisting that negotiations with Security Council members and the Arab League have been underway and would end within 10 days.
On Monday morning, the Ma’an news agency quoted Maliki as saying that the Palestinian leadership had decided to postpone its efforts to pass a Security Council resolution setting a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. The UN was too preoccupied with Iran to deal with the Palestinian issue, Maliki reportedly told the Bethlehem-based news agency, adding that Palestinian diplomats had not yet been able to obtain the nine Security Council votes necessary to either pass the decision or force the US to exercise its veto power.
But later, Maliki denied in a press statement that the Palestinians had ever linked their UN bid to the Iranian issue, or to the prospects of success in a vote.
“The statements of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas are clear regarding the continuation of our efforts to bring the draft resolution to a vote in the Security Council,” said Maliki, referring to a pledge made by Abbas to members of his Fatah party Sunday to bring the issue to the Security Council before November’s end.
Palestinians are still negotiating the bid with France as the representative of the European bloc, and awaiting the return of Security Council diplomats from Vienna, where negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program have been held. On Saturday, Abbas will discuss the bid in Cairo with the Arab League’s Follow-up Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative, and then complete the procedural measures needed to bring the decision to a vote, Maliki said.
“In other words, there is no postponement, and preparations are ongoing. Once they’re completed, the vote will take place on the draft resolution regardless of the outcome of negotiations with Council members. This is expected to take place within the coming ten days,” Maliki concluded.
UN Secretary of State John Kerry has been trying to convince the Palestinian leadership to forgo its UN bid in favor of renewed negotiations with Israel. The Palestinians have presented a number of preconditions for talks to resume, including a three-month settlement freeze while the borders of the future state are negotiated and an Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis of a Palestinian state.