(Updates with Ashton statement in fifth paragraph.)
Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- About 140 countries are likely to support a Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations General Assembly later this month, according to Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath.
“Many Palestinian leaders and officials went on separate tours and visits to convince the world’s countries to recognize the Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” said Shaath, a senior official in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction. His remarks in Ramallah today were broadcast on Palestinian television.
Palestinian officials have said they are pursuing recognition at the UN for statehood due to a failure to restart negotiations with Israel that broke down a year ago over construction in West Bank settlements. Israel has warned that the Palestinian move might jeopardize the peace process.
The U.S. is making a final effort to restart peace talks and forestall the Palestinian bid, The New York Times reported today, citing unidentified American officials. The U.S. opposes the Palestinian bid for statehood and has veto power in the UN Security Council.
After traveling to the region last week, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said her meetings with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated a “real opportunity” to move forward on peace negotiations.
The International Monetary Fund said in an April 6 report that the Palestinian Authority is capable of running the economy of an independent state. Though Palestinians have few natural resources and no independent access to ports, growth in the West Bank and Gaza Strip reached 9 percent in 2010, the IMF said in the report.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war from Jordan and Egypt. While ceding much of its power with the 1993 Oslo agreements, Israel maintained authority over roads, airspace and borders.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, taking charge of the southern border with Egypt, though Israel operates a sea blockade of the territory and allows only limited exports.
Israel hasn’t spelled out how it will respond to recognition of Palestinian statehood in the General Assembly. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, though, said July 17 that forcing a vote at the UN would be “the end of the Oslo Accords.”
--With assistance from Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv. Editors: Steven Komarow, Joe Sobczyk
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