Britain to Abstain From Palestinian Statehood Vote at UN

Comment by FM Hague comes as PA official estimates Palestinian bid at UN Security Council for full membership will probably fail.

Foreign Secretary William Hague says Britain will abstain when the United Nations Security Council votes on the Palestinian bid for statehood.

Hague told the House of Commons Wednesday that the decision to abstain was made after consultations with fellow Security Council member France and other European countries.

Abbas at UN - AP - Sept. 21, 2011

He says the UN vote will be held soon.

Hague said in a statement that the Palestinian situation would be best resolved by negotiation and urged Israel to return to direct talks with Palestinian leaders.

The foreign secretary says Britain remains committed to helping the Palestinians achieve statehood and will work to help alleviate poverty and to build institutions there.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki blamed the United States, Israel's closest ally, for pressuring council members "to dissuade them from voting for the Palestinian quest."

And he told The Associated Press that the Palestinians would not be calling for an immediate vote on membership.

Malki, speaking in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, said the Palestinians don't believe they could garner the necessary nine votes.

"We expected to get nine votes in the Security Council, but it's clear now, with the U.S. counter effort and huge intervention, that we are not going to have these nine votes," Malki said.

He added: "We are not going to ask for voting on Nov. 11. We want to hear the positions. We are standing before a hard battle, as USA has recruited all of its capacities in order to foil us."

The draft report does not include the number or names of countries that would support, abstain, or oppose Palestinian membership.