Arab Foreign Ministers Back Abbas' UN Bid for Occupation Deadline

Palestinian president set to present his new diplomatic plan to the UN General Assembly this month.

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Foreign ministers of the Arab League take part in an emergency meeting at the league's headquarters in Cairo, September 7, 2014.
Foreign ministers of the Arab League take part in an emergency meeting at the league's headquarters in Cairo, September 7, 2014. Credit: Reuters

Arab foreign ministers say they will back Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's efforts to lobby the United Nations to set a deadline for Israel to end its occupation of lands captured in the 1967 war and make way for an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, Jamal al-Shobaki, said Monday that the Arab League resolution issued a day earlier calls for the head of the Arab League to push the idea in the UN Security Council and other regional and international groups. Al-Shobaki said the foreign ministers are consulting over the draft resolution to be put to the council.

Abbas floated the idea last month as a way to refocus international attention on Palestinians demands for a state after failed efforts to reach a negotiated peace deal with Israel.

According to one of Abbas' closest associates, Mahmoud al-Habash, the Palestinian president's plan calls for determining borders with Israel and ending the occupation of the West Bank within three years.

The plan includes renewed negotiations with Israel for a period of nine months and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within three years. Al-Habash, who spoke to the Jordanian media, said that the proposal forms a basis for talks, where the first three months would be dedicated to determining borders. Negotiations would focus on other core issues after that period.

Abbas’ diplomatic plan is expected to be the centerpiece of his address to the UN General Assembly later this month. Washington hinted that it would veto the plan should it come before the UN Security Council.

In this case, Abbas would be expected to bring the plan for a vote in the General Assembly, where the United States has no veto. The Palestinians would probably win 130 nations to their side, an overwhelming majority, but General Assembly resolutions are not binding.

Al-Shobaki said the appeal to the UN is in line with other international resolutions in regards to the establishment of a Palestinian state and the recognition of 1967 borders as basis for negotiations.

He said that an American veto is a possibility in the Security Council. With Israel opposed to the withdrawal to its pre-1967 lines, it will likely seek U.S. help in thwarting the bid.

"This is a political battle," he told The Associated Press. He said since Washington is seeking an international alliance to fight terrorism in the region, it ought to recognize that the denial of a Palestinian state is used by militants in the region to feed radicalism.

"Giving the Palestinians their right will be reflected as stability in the region," al-Shobaki said.

If a veto happens, he said, the Palestinians will pursue their bid for joining the International Criminal Court, where they could pursue war crimes charges against Israel.

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