Abbas seeks 'advice' from France on declaring Palestinian statehood
Before heading from Tunisia to France, Palestinian leader says he opposes return to Intifada even if peace talks fail, but still plans to seek UN endorsement of independence in absence of deal.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will travel to Paris on Thursday seeking support for the expected declaration of statehood this September.
"We are friends, so he can be sincere with us and to talk to us openly," Abbas said to the AFP last week, talking about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who he is expected to meet in the afternoon.
Abbas said he was planning to ask Sarkozy for “advice,” on the best approach to seeking recognition for an independent Palestinian state.
As September nears, the Palestinians have been ratcheting up their efforts to prepare the ground for their declaration. In recent weeks Abbas has traveled to Britain, Denmark and Russia, and is scheduled to visit Germany early next month – all in order to forward this agenda.
The Palestinian leader’s efforts have been boosted by assessments this month from the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Quartet – all deeming the Palestinian Authority ready to govern a state.
It is expected that Abbas will receive another boost in Paris this week.
In Tunisia on Wednesday, Abbas said he was opposed to a third armed uprising - or Intifada - against Israel, even if faltering peace efforts fail altogether.
The Palestinian leader reiterated that he remains committed to the United States-backed target of reaching a negotiated peace agreement with Israel by September.
But with peace talks stalled since Israel resumed settlement building in September, he repeated his plan to unilaterally seek United Nations endorsement of Palestinian independence in September in the absence of a deal.
A UN vote backing a Palestinian state would be largely symbolic, and it remains unclear what the Palestinians will do after that.
Abbas said that whatever happens, he would not accept a third armed uprising. He noted last decade's Intifada against Israel was disastrous for the Palestinians.
On Tuesday, Abbas reiterated that the Palestinians are ready for statehood, but that the PA does not agree with the Israeli idea of temporary borders.
Speaking to the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, Abbas also said the PA would fulfill the vision of U.S. President Barack Obama, who said he wanted to see a Palestinian state established in September as determined by the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers.
"We have more than 130 nations set to recognize the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders," said Abbas, "and even if we make no further efforts, that number could be increased to 140 or 150."
He also said countries that in the past had not recognized a Palestinian state, like Britain and France, would accept such a state.
Abbas will continue from Tunisia to France where he will meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy.
American and European diplomats warned that if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are not renewed, the Quartet, may formally recognize a Palestinian state, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
The Quartet, which comprises the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia, was supposed to meet last week to discuss an initiative by Britain, France and Germany to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks by proposing the outlines of a final settlement.
There is growing pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to unveil a new peace initiative, according to media reports - or risk the Quartet formally endorsing a unilaterally declared Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders in September.
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