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    Palestinians announce plans to again seek full UN membership

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday he plans to reactivate an application for the Palestinians to have full membership in the United Nations, and his foreign minister said that will likely happen in a few weeks.

    Abbas made the announcement just before he took over as head of the key group of developing countries at the United Nations (UN) with a promise to confront “assaults” on multilateralism and a pledge to seek a peaceful two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on September 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.

    That bid failed because the Palestinians failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members. Even if they did, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had promised to veto any council resolution endorsing Palestinian membership.

    Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki told two reporters at a reception for Abbas later on Tuesday that “we know that we are going to face a US veto but this won’t prevent us from presenting our application.”

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. – AP

    He said the Palestinians’ first step is to hold discussions with members of the Security Council.

    “So it’s only a matter of maybe a few weeks before … we will go to the Security Council for submitting our application,” al-Malki said.

    After the Palestinians’ initial bid for full UN membership was rejected, they went to the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, and by more than a two-thirds majority succeeded in having their status raised from a UN observer to a non-member observer state in November 2012.

    That opened the door for the Palestinian territories to join UN and other international organisations, including the International Criminal Court.

    But real independence remains elusive until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis. In a boost to Abbas’ push for statehood and full UN membership, ministers of the Group of 77 — a powerful coalition of 134 mainly developing nations and China at the United Nations — formally decided to give the group’s chairmanship to the Palestinians.

    But because it is a non-member state, the Palestinians needed General Assembly approval to preside over the G77. They got it in October over objections from Israel and the United States. In his acceptance speech, Abbas said the G77 will strive to ensure the rights and development of all people living under foreign and colonial occupation.

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