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WEST BANK: Palestinians determined to get more recognition

August 13, 2011 | 11:20 am

The Palestinian Authority is doubling its efforts to get as many countries to recognize it before September, when it plans to officially ask the United Nations for recognition and membership.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said on Saturday that “we have made very important breakthroughs, but we need to do more and build on what we have achieved so far.”

Malki was talking about 19 countries in Central America and the Caribbean who still have not made up their mind regarding recognition. He had recently visited most of these countries, including Caribbean Sea islands with a population not exceeding 45,000 people but are nevertheless sovereign U.N. member states, in an attempt to persuade them to recognize Palestine as a state.

He has to wait until the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) and the Central American SICA group convene their joint meeting Aug. 19 before he gets their final answer. So far, the situation does not look good since El Salvador, seat of SICA, has refused to place Palestine’s request on its agenda, nor invited the Palestinian Authority to attend the meeting.

But Malki said he would not give up. He would still travel to El Salvador and meet foreign ministers and officials of these countries to sway them to the Palestinian point of view.

The Palestinians need two-thirds of the U.N. member states -- that is at least 129 countries -- to vote in favor of their recognition resolution at the General Assembly if they are to gain membership. But they need first to go through the Security Council, which has to make the membership recommendation to the General Assembly.

If the Security Council adopts that resolution and recommends membership, the two-thirds vote will be needed in case any country asks for a count of vote rather than just applause as was the case with South Sudan.

With the U.S. strongly opposed to the Palestinian step, describing it as a unilateral act, it is expected to veto it once it comes up at the Security Council. If that happens, the resolution will never make it to the General Assembly, deeming the scrambling for two-thirds of the votes pointless.

This would leave the Palestinians with one option: to ask the General Assembly for nonmember state status, which they can get with only a majority of the votes of those present in the session. But that would be far short of their intended goal.

--Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank

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