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Palestine UN bid backing refused

LONDON, Sept 15 (KUNA) -- Recognition of a Palestinian state should come as the result of negotiations with Israel, the UK Government said Thursday as ministers refused to commit to backing a bid for United Nations membership.
Foreign Office minister responsible for the Mideast Alistair Burt said no decision would be taken until the Palestinian Authority had published its proposal for membership of the international organization.
But he told MPs that "the Government have always been clear about its recognition of a Palestinian state at the conclusion of a process of negotiation between the parties in which mutual security has been guaranteed.
"We see no reason to move from that position because anything else would threaten the compromise and the security position we are all looking to achieve." The Palestinians will submit a bid for full UN membership at the UN Security Council on September 23, a move which is likely to be vetoed by the United States.
Veteran Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman whose question on the UK's voting intentions forced Burt to come to the dispatch box, warned that a failed bid by the Palestinians would spell the end of the 20 year-long peace process.
Burt said: "The Palestinian leadership has yet to submit any application to the United Nations.
If and when an application is received, we will make a decision how to respond. "Without knowing the content of any such application, it would be premature to speculate on what the Government's response might be." Burt added there was "no alternative to negotiations" as he restated the UK's view that borders should be drawn along the 1967 lines with agreed swaps of land and a shared Jerusalem.
He acknowledged that a unilateral move by the Palestinians at the United Nations this month was looking "increasingly likely." "We are working closely with partners to build consensus on a way forward that recognizes the progress the Palestinians have made on their state-building efforts, that meets Israel's legitimate security concern and that avoids confrontation at the United Nations.
"Whatever action is taken in New York, it is important that this increases the prospects for a return to negotiations.
"It is also important to remember that action in the UN is not an end in itself, September is not the closing date for the resolution of this conflict.
What happens next is vital. which is why our goal remains to ensure that steps taken now pave the way for significant conclusive talks.
"It is vital that any action in the UN does nothing to endanger the prospect of talks." Sir Gerald warned that a rejection of the Palestinians' application would be treated as a triumph by the Israelis and derail peace talks.
He said that "it would be totally inconsistent to support freedom for the people of Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria and not actively support, by this country's United Nations votes, comparable independence for the people of Palestine who have been waiting 64 years for United Nations decisions to be fulfilled and implemented." He told Burt a Palestinian success would "transform the situation in the Middle East" but that if they failed at the UN "the Israelis will regard this as a triumph and it will be an end of the 20-year peace process." He asked: "Will this Government stand up and put its hand up for the Palestinian people at the United Nations?" Burt said: "It would be a disaster if, in New York, one side proclaims triumph and the other side reacts to a disaster.
"We are working very hard with all partners to try and make sure that, whatever comes out of the UN, it is in the spirit of both sides feeling that something has been gained and we have a situation which moves towards those negotiations which need to succeed.
"We are all well aware of how success or disaster could be viewed and what the consequences would be." For his part, Opposition Labour Shadow foreign minister Stephen Twigg said Labour had "long-supported" a two-state solution.
"There is widespread frustration and disappointment at the failure to make any progress in recent years," he said.
"We seek an immediate return to meaningful negotiations between the parties and that the basis for those negotiations should be the 1967 borders with land swaps.
"The Palestinians' path to independent statehood will require recognition at the United Nations and Labour supports that goal." He told Burt "however we believe, contrary to what you have said today, that the options before the international community are now clear." Twigg asked the minister to detail how the UK would vote at the UN if the Security Council is asked to decide whether Palestine should be given full recognition, or there are votes at the General Assembly advocating full recognition or enhanced observer status.
But Burt refused to state the Government's position as a decision about what votes would take place were "still live" and yet to be decided.
He added: "We want to make sure that nothing that comes forward and is agreed next week does damage to the prospect of peace between the parties which we believe will come through a negotiated settlement and as soon as possible." MPs were split across party lines on what the Government's position should be if there is a vote next week at the UN.
Other MPs said the Government must take the position adopted by the US and veto any proposal for a recognition of a Palestinian state.

Palestine UN bid backing refused -

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