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Sarkozy seeks 1-year timetable for creating Palestinian state
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday proposed a one-year timetable for establishing a Palestinian state as the U.S. struggled to head off a confrontation in the United Nations Security Council over the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership.
Speaking barely an hour after President Obama orated vigorously against the Palestinian initiative, Mr. Sarkozy floated the idea of upgrading the Palestinians’ U.N. status from “nonmember observer entity” to “nonmember observer state” - a designation akin to the Vatican’s - and resuming negotiations toward a final agreement with the Israelis.
“Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters and let us begin negotiations and adopt a precise and ambitious timetable,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “Let’s have one month to resume discussions, six months to find agreement on borders and security, one year to reach a definitive agreement.”
The Palestinians walked out of short-lived U.S.-sponsored negotiations last September after Israel let a 10-month moratorium on Jewish settlements in the West Bank lapse.
Israel, in turn, has sought Palestinian acknowledgment of its character as a Jewish state.
However, the Palestinians’ top U.S. representative, Maen Rashid Areikat, told The Washington Times that those reports were “totally false.”
Mr. Sarkozy’s call appeared aimed at avoiding a showdown in the Security Council, where the U.S. has promised to veto any Palestinian resolution, though doubts remained Wednesday about whether the Palestinians even had a nine-vote majority locked down.
Mr. Sarkozy said that “each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state,” but he expressed concerns that a Security Council veto “risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East.”
The Palestinians could gain Mr. Sarkozy’s proposed “enhanced observer” status from the General Assembly, where they enjoy an automatic majority.
Mr. Sarkozy, who is half-Jewish, has long been an outspoken advocate of Israel and enjoyed warm relations with the center-left government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s predecessor. But he has been cool toward the current right-wing government, whose sincerity about peace he reportedly doubts.
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About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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