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Arabs weigh alternatives to Palestinian UN bid

October 30, 2011

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani (R) speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the Meeting of the Arab Peace Initiative Committee in Doha October 30, 2011. - Reuters Photo

DOHA: Arab foreign ministers said Sunday they would look into alternative action if their efforts fail to secure full Palestinian membership of the United Nations.

“We support the Palestinian demand for full UN membership,” they said in a statement after talks in Doha. But the Arab League agreed to form a “committee of experts to study legal and political alternatives.”

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who attended Sunday's meeting, officially submitted the request for Palestinian membership in September, a move which the US has threatened to veto if it comes to a vote in the UN Security Council.

The Council is expected to meet on November 11 to decide on whether to hold a formal vote on the membership application.

The controversy at the United Nations also extends to UNESCO's general assembly, where members are expected to vote on Monday on whether to grant Palestine full membership status.

The vote in favour of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation would threaten the organisation's millions of dollars in US funding.

The Arab League's statement on Sunday expressed “support for the Palestinian campaign for full membership in UNESCO.”

Though the US has veto power in the Security Council, it cannot veto a decision at UNESCO, where a two-thirds majority of its 193 voting members is sufficient for the Palestinian membership bid to pass.

The same applies to the UN General Assembly, where Palestinian officials have said they would take their campaign for statehood if the Security Council bid is vetoed.

Israel rejects the Palestinian request, arguing a Palestinian state is achievable only through negotiations.