Palestinians to Host Non-Aligned Movement Delegation Ahead of New Statehood Bid

Foreign Ministers from 13 states set to attend conference in Ramallah on Sunday.

The Palestinian Authority is to host its first meeting of the Palestine committee of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Ramallah on Sunday, aimed at garnering support for their bid for statehood, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki announced Saturday.

NAM is a group of states which say they are not formally aligned with or against any major world power bloc, or the West. It has some 120 members, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, but also in Asia and South America, and is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Al-Malki said the meeting, requested by the Palestinian Authority, was to introduce NAM members to the Palestinian situation and to ask for their support, should they ask to become a non-member state in the United Nations General Assembly.

"The meeting aims to stress the right of our people and leadership to hold conferences on our land and to support our struggle to end the occupation and settlements and establish our independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital," said al-Malki.

The Palestine Committee meeting in Ramallah comprises the foreign ministers of 13 NAM member states and will be headed by Egypt, he said.

Malki said it was problematic to invite foreign ministers of countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, since they would have to pass through Israeli crossings to reach Ramallah.

It was therefore decided - in apparent agreement with Israel - to fly the heads of the delegations in a helicopter from Jordan straight to Ramallah to avoid contact with the Israelis.

The meeting is to open with an address by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and will conclude with what Malki called the Ramallah Declaration - expected to support Palestinian membership of the General Assembly.

The Ramallah Declaration is to be introduced as an official document at the upcoming NAM conference scheduled in Tehran later this month.

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi,  Mahmoud Abbas, and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.