Last updated: 17 August, 2011

Israel ministers debate Palestinian UN bid

Israel’s security cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss possible security scenarios in September when Palestinians try to secure UN membership, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

“The ministerial committee on security held a debate ahead of likely events in September in light of the Palestinian leadership’s intention to declare statehood at the UN,” it said in a statement.

“The ministers heard reviews by security officials and their assessments of the various consequences of possible events on the ground in the field,” it said, adding that the committee would meet again soon on the issue.

Public radio said they did not discuss diplomatic preparations but concentrated on an expected wave of rallies and demonstrations of support across the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinians have said they will formally submit their request for UN membership to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on September 20 when world leaders begin gathering in New York for the 66th session of the General Assembly.

An influential Palestinian leader jailed in Israel last week warned that any US veto of the request in the UN Security Council would spark huge regional protests.

“Such a veto will be confronted by millions-strong protests throughout the Arab and Muslim world, indeed throughout the whole world,” said Marwan Barghuti, who is serving several life terms for involvement in anti-Israeli attacks.

Hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week warned the Palestinians were planning “bloodshed and violence the like of which we have never seen” in September — in a charge denied by the Palestinians.

“We believe 100 percent that any kind of violence will reflect negatively against our demands,” Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said.

The decision to seek UN membership comes after direct peace talks with Israel ran aground late last year in an intractable dispute over Jewish settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.

Israel is implacably opposed to such a move, saying negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict and establish a Palestinian state in a position which is backed by Washington.