As US opposes, India backs Palestinian bid for UN membership

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

United Nations: As Palestinian President Mahoud Abbas put forth a historic bid for UN membership for an independent state of Palestine, India reiterated its support for the move despite US opposition.

Support TwoCircles

In fact, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could well voice his support for the Palestinian aspirations in his address to the UN General Assembly Saturday, Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai hinted Friday.

“Our position on the Palestinian issue is an established position. It is well known that as far back as 1988, we recognised the Palestinian State. So you should not be surprised if there is a reiteration of that, he said even as he declined to preview the prime minister’s speech.

At their meeting also Friday hours after Abbas’ historic bid, both Manmohan Singh and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “reiterated their support for the Palestinian attempt to seek membership of UN,” Mathai noted.

Abbas’s formal application for UN membership Friday drew applause in the General Assembly when the Palestinian leader raised the document at the podium during his speech at the 66th annual session Friday.

The time has come for a “Palestinian Spring” to join the Arab Spring in reshaping the Middle East, he said. “My people desire to exercise their right to enjoy a normal life like the rest of humanity.”

However, the Palestinian bid is viewed as a largely symbolic gesture because an American veto is all but assured should
the request come to a vote in the Security Council.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, later taking his turn to address the General Assembly, also criticised the move saying Palestinians are looking for a “state without peace,” ignoring security concerns important to Israel.

Representatives from the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union-a group commonly referred to as the Quartet for the Middle East-discussed the request later Friday, and issued a statement saying the bid is now before the UN Security Council.

The group called for a “preparatory meeting,” to take place within one month and intended to outline how peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders might take place.

The Security Council is expected to meet Monday to further discuss the issue.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])