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U.K. said ready to back PA U.N. upgrade

Nov. 27, 2012 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Britain will vote to raise Palestinian Authority U.N. status if the PA vows to resume peace talks and not pursue Israel for war crimes, two newspapers reported.

London earlier refused to support the Palestinian Authority bid for non-member "observer state" -- to be debated by the U.N. General Assembly in New York Thursday -- citing strong U.S. and Israeli objections.

But the government of Prime Minister David Cameron said it would change its mind if the PA agreed to three points, British newspapers The Guardian and the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

The proposal came as Washington and Jerusalem worked on language for the Palestinian General Assembly resolution that echoes Britain's three points.

In the first point, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was asked by British Foreign Secretary William Hague to commit to an immediate resumption of peace talks with Israel "without preconditions," an Israeli demand, the newspapers said.

Abbas has repeatedly said he wants to use the U.N. upgrade from a non-member "observer entity" to kick-start peace talks with Israel. But the Times said he was likely to balk at making a formal commitment to hold talks while Israel expands its settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas was also asked to promise not to use its new status -- the same status as Vatican City -- to join the International Criminal Court, which could be used to pursue war-crimes charges against Israeli officials, the newspapers said.

Palestinians say joining the ICC is a low priority but insist they will not formally rule out going to the international court.

Abbas was also asked to offer an assurance that if the resolution is passed in the General Assembly, the PA will not follow up by appealing to the Security Council for full Palestinian membership of the world body, the newspapers said.

Resolutions passed by the General Assembly do not have a binding force over the member nations, but resolutions passed by the Security Council do.

The vote on recognizing Palestinian statehood and upgrading PA U.N. status is widely expected to pass the 193-member assembly. Some 132 U.N. members already recognize the state of Palestine.

France is among the countries indicating it will vote yes Thursday, The Guardian said.

Abbas' office had no immediate comment on the reports. Nor did Washington or Jerusalem.

The Obama and Netanyahu administrations are quietly working in Washington on adjusting the Palestinian resolution's language, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday.

The points being worked on are similar to the British requirements for its support.

Israel wants an added point stressing the General Assembly vote is a symbolic decision that grants no sovereignty over the West Bank, Gaza Strip or East Jerusalem, Haaretz said.

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