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Frustrated Palestinians to appeal to UN for state

Marking independence Palestinian security officers march by to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the self-declared Palestinian Independence Day, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday. Palestinians have marked Nov. 15 as their Independence Day since 1988, when the Palestine National Council unilaterally declared statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Associated Press

Marking independence Palestinian security officers march by to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the self-declared Palestinian Independence Day, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday. Palestinians have marked Nov. 15 as their Independence Day since 1988, when the Palestine National Council unilaterally declared statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian drive to ask the U.N. Security Council to endorse a state unilaterally, put forward by a top negotiator Sunday, appeared more an expression of frustration with U.S. and Israeli policies and stalled peace talks than a real effort to go it alone.

A resolution for a Palestinian state could face a veto from the United States, Israel's main ally. But if the Security Council approved it, consequences could be even more severe.

An Israeli legal expert said if the Palestinians move ahead by themselves, Israel would be within its rights to cancel interim peace accords, which regulate daily life between the two sides.

The Palestinians are upset over continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and are disappointed with the U.S. failure to put pressure on Israel to halt the construction. The lack of progress led Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to threaten to quit politics earlier this month.

As events unfolded, that, too, appeared to be an indirect appeal for international backing by Abbas, who enjoys considerable world support.

In the West Bank on Sunday, officials in Abbas' Fatah Party said they would meet next month to extend his term indefinitely.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestinians decided to turn to the U.N. Security Council after 18 years of on-again, off-again talks with Israel.

"Now is our defining moment. We went into this peace process in order to achieve a two-state solution," he said. "The endgame is to tell the Israelis that now the international community has recognized the two-state solution on the '67 borders," referring to cease-fire lines in effect before the 1967 war, when Israel captured territories from Jordan and Egypt that Palestinians claim for their state.

Further complicating the situation is the status of the Gaza Strip. Erekat said the U.N. initiative would be to create a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, but Hamas has controlled Gaza since it expelled forces loyal to the Western-backed Abbas in 2007.

Frustrated Palestinians to appeal to UN for state 11/15/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 15, 2009 10:37pm]

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