Palestinians say China will back statehood bid at UN meeting

In a message from the Chinese President Hu Jintao to Mahmud Abbas, he said China has "always supported the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state".

RAMALLAH // China has said it will vote in favour of Palestinian statehood when the matter is presented to the UN Security Council next month, the official Palestinian news agency said on Friday.

A message to that effect from Chinese President Hu Jintao was delivered to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Thursday, WAFA said.

Hu said China has "always supported the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state" on all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians are to formally submit their request for membership to UN chief Ban Ki-moon on September 20 when world leaders begin gathering in New York for the 66th session of the General Assembly.

The decision comes after direct peace talks with Israel ran aground late last year in an intractable dispute over Jewish settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.

Israel is implacably opposed to such a move, saying negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict and establish a Palestinian state in a position backed by Washington.

Ordinarily, the Security Council recommends membership and then refers the request to the General Assembly.

China is one of five permanent and veto-wielding members of the council, along with Britain, France, Russia and the United States.

If the council vetoes membership or delays deliberation, the Palestinians can appeal directly to the General Assembly, where they are assured the simple majority they need. They could also skip the Security Council altogether and go straight to the Assembly.

On Wednesday, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said "we hope for the vote of more than 150 countries for recognition of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with its capital in east Jerusalem as a full member at the United Nations," negotiator told AFP.

The UN has 192 member states.

Published: August 26, 2011 04:00 AM

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