U.N.: Politics hurting Palestinian efforts

Sept. 14, 2011 at 7:35 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Palestinian state-building efforts have been "impressive" but are threatened by the lack of political progress, a U.N. reported released Wednesday concludes.

The report said the Palestinian Authority has attained the goals it set out to achieve two years ago to get institutions in place to accommodate statehood. But it also warns the advances may not be sustainable without a political breakthrough.

"I am very worried about the disconnect between what the PA has achieved on the ground and where the political process stands," Robert Serry, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said. "The reality is that there is only so much that can be done in conditions of prolonged occupation, unresolved final status issues, no serious progress on a two-state solution, and a continuing Palestinian divide.

"Further achievements in state-building require that the politics catch up with the impressive progress on the ground. People should realize that if we do not meet this challenge, the achievements the Palestinian Authority has realized will be increasingly at risk."

Serry's report, "Palestinian State Building: An achievement at risk," was prepared for the 12-member committee that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people. The group will meet Sunday in New York.

"I hope that this Sunday's meeting also brings renewed focus on the necessity of immediate donor support to ensure that PA financing needs are met through the end of 2011," Serry said. "There's a $300 million shortfall for recurrent financing."

The Palestinian Authority has widened its support for its bid for U.N. statehood as the United States seeks a compromise to avoid confrontation at the United Nations.

As the Arab League and Turkey voiced support for the Palestinians' request to the United Nations next week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said envoys would be in the Middle East Wednesday to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to try to avert a U.N. vote, The New York Times reported.

The United States, working with the European Union, sought to garner international support for what Clinton said was "a sustainable platform for negotiations" between the Israelis and the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state.

Administration officials have expressed hope that headway on a prospective agreement could avoid a vote at the United Nations or be submitted to the U.N. Security Council or the General Assembly instead of a Palestinian request for membership or status as an observer state, the Post said.

"We all know that no matter what happens or doesn't happen at the U.N., the next day is not going to result in the kind of changes that the United States wishes to see that will move us toward the two-state solution that we strongly support," Clinton said Tuesday. "The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties, and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York."

After a meeting with Palestinian representatives Tuesday, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el Araby said, "[It] is obvious that the Palestinian Authority and the Arab countries are leaning toward going to the General Assembly," where a successful vote could move the Palestinian Authority from a non-voting "observer entity" to "observer state," putting it on par with the Vatican.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier told Arab League ministers recognition of a Palestinian state was "not a choice but an obligation."

The Arab League indicated it would urge Palestinians to seek a U.N. General Assembly vote to elevate the status of the Palestinian Authority from "observer entity" to "observer state."

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