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Palestinians relaunch bid to become UN member state

A Palestinian boy sits amid the rubble of a destroyed house in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. — AFP
A Palestinian boy sits amid the rubble of a destroyed house in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. — AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians officially revived their bid for a full member state in the United Nations -- a process with an uncertain outcome but one they say is necessary in the face of Israel's offensive in Gaza.

The Palestinians, who have had observer status at the world body since 2012, have lobbied for years to gain full membership, which would amount to recognition of Palestinian statehood.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, dated Tuesday, UN envoy Riyad Mansour requested "upon instructions of the Palestinian leadership" that an application dating back to 2011 be reconsidered.

The letter has been transmitted to the Security Council, and the Palestinians have asked that it be reviewed this month, according to the documents.

Mansour has repeatedly said in recent months that given Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip, UN membership is a priority for the Palestinians.

"It was the international community that decided to create two states in Palestine since 1947," Mansour said in February.

"It is the duty of the international community along with the Palestinian people to complete that exercise by admitting the state of Palestine to membership."

Last month, he said the Palestinians would "start mobilizing the largest number of countries to support us" and expressed hope that the council would act in April, pointing to a council meeting set for April 18 on the situation in Gaza.

Malta, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency, said Mansour's letter was "received and circulated" to council members, adding that talks would be held "on a way forward."

The League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement sent a letter to Guterres on Tuesday, also seen by AFP, supporting the bid by the Palestinians. "We wish to bring to your attention that, as of this date, 140 Member States have recognized the state of Palestine," said the joint letter, which included a list of those countries.

For now, Israel has clearly rejected a two-state solution, and its parliament voted overwhelmingly in February against any unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Several European countries -- Britain, France and Spain -- have raised the possibility of considering recognition. — AFP

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