Germany urges Palestinian caution over UN bid
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has urged Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas to tread carefully in his bid for UN membership, warning that such a strategy could ultimately harm peace efforts.
A German foreign ministry statement released on Monday, as Westerwelle was due to arrive in Israel from neighbouring Jordan and as the Arab league was meeting in Cairo to discuss the Palestinian gambit, did not explicitly counsel Abbas to drop the plan.
"Germany ... supports the aim of a viable Palestinian state as a result of negotiations," the English-language statement quoted the German minister as telling Abbas at a meeting in Amman on Sunday evening.
"However, steps that risk to make any progress towards a two-state-solution more difficult should be avoided," it said. "With a view to a possible Palestinian request to the UN, the decisive question was what would serve the peace process and what would hamper it."
Westerwelle was to meet later on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The Palestinians intend to seek full membership of the United Nations later this month and are meeting in Cairo with Arab League ministers on Monday to discuss whether to make their request to the Security Council or to the General Assembly.
Attempts to negotiate an end to Israel's 44-year occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in east Jerusalem, ground to a halt last September after the expiry of a temporary ban on settlement building, which Israel refused to renew.
Abbas said he would no longer negotiate while settlements continued to grow and the Palestinians decided on the UN route as an alternative strategy.
Israel is fiercely opposed to the initiative, arguing that negotiations are the only way to end the conflict and establish a Palestinian state.
© 2011 AFP