The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council was yesterday expected to endorse a decision by the Palestinian leadership to seek full membership in the UN in September.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was to address council members at the meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, which got under way late yesterday morning, officials said. In his speech, Abbas was expected to lay out details of the mechanism by which the Palestinians will approach the world body, which it is hoping to join as a full member.
The Central Council is the PLO’s most important decision-making body in the absence of the Palestinian National Council, the parliament-in-exile which rarely meets.
The Ramallah session comes five days after Abbas convened a gathering of Palestinian diplomats in Istanbul in a bid to finalize their strategy of seeking support for statehood when the UN General Assembly meets in September.
Officials said they were not planning on unilaterally proclaiming a state as they did in Algiers in 1988, nor would they seek recognition from the UN as a whole.
Instead, they will continue to work for endorsement on a state-by-state basis, while applying for membership in the global body.
Approaching the Security Council would be the only way for the Palestinians to gain full membership in the UN, although backing in the General Assembly would enable them to upgrade their current status from an observer body to a non-member state.
Such an upgrade would allow the Palestinians to join all the UN agencies, such as the WHO and the child welfare agency UNICEF.
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last autumn, just weeks after they were launched, in an intractable spat over Jewish settlement building. Since then, the Palestinians have adopted a diplomatic strategy centring on the approach to the UN in a step fiercely opposed by both Israel and Washington.
In other news, Israeli troops raided the Freedom Theater in the northern West Bank city of Jenin early yesterday, arresting two employees, their colleagues said.
The raid comes three months after the theater’s director, Juliano Mer-Khamis, was gunned down by an unknown assailant in the city’s refugee camp.
However, there was no immediate indication that the operation was linked to the death of Mer-Khamis, an actor who described himself as Israeli-Palestinian and had lived in Jenin for seven years.
The Israeli military confirmed that it had arrested “wanted Palestinians” during an operation in Jenin, but declined to say who it had arrested or why.
Jacob Gough, the theater’s British general manager, named the arrested employees as Adnan Naghnaghiye, one of the managers, and Bilal Saadi, a member of the board of directors.
“Around 3am, I got a call saying that the Israeli army was at the theater, that they were throwing rocks at the theater,” he said.
“They’ve damaged quite a lot of the outside of the theater, quite a few windows were smashed,” he said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on allegations that troops had thrown stones at the theater, saying only “soldiers did not enter the theater in Jenin.”
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