Russia backs UN debate on Palestinian state: Fatah

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Russia supports a United Nations discussion of Palestinian independence, a top Fatah member said Tuesday while dismissing the idea of a unilateral declaration.

Fatah member Azzam al-Ahmed added that Palestinian leaders would meet in Ramallah on Wednesday to form a joint response to US President Barack Obama's proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the borders of which would be based on the status quo before the 1967 Six-Day War.

"We do not intend to unilaterally declare independence," Ahmed said one day after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

He said Russia supported the idea of the Palestinians submitting the independent state idea for a vote at the United Nations, although he failed to specify whether Moscow had also promised to vote yes.

"Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed at yesterday's meeting that Russia supports this process," Ahmed told reporters.

Lavrov Monday reaffirmed Russia's backing for the Palestinian reconciliation process, which has upset Israel because of the involvement of Hamas, an Islamist group which refuses to recognises the Jewish state's right to exist.

Russia said rival Fatah and Hamas leaders had further bridged their differences and signed a new statement detailing how a future state involving all the Palestinian factions will work.

The new government is not expected to include members of the factions but consist of technocrats to serve until elections, which are tentatively scheduled for next year.

The Moscow meeting represented one of Russia's most series involvements in the stalled Middle East process in recent years, and coincided with Obama's conditional support for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Obama's initiative infuriated some Israeli organisations and led to a tense meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But Obama also upset some Palestinian groups because he did not mention east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and also proposed land swaps that could make Israeli settlements in the West Bank permanent.

The Fatah negotiator said Palestinian leaders would meet in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Wednesday to agree a joint position on Obama's proposal.

It was unclear whether Hamas representatives would also be represented at the Ramallah talks in some form.

"Obama's statements give a positive signal," al-Ahmed said.

"At the same time, these words are not enough because they say nothing about east Jerusalem," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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