Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Palestinians confident Africa would back their UN membership bid

Majority if not all of African countries both at the United Nations Security Council

and General Assembly will support Palestine membership bid as the January 26th deadline for a start of Palestine-Israeli negotiation has failed and Palestinians contemplates revamping their bid at the UN, a senior Palestinian official  told Capital on Friday.
On Thursday a deadline set by the so called quartet for Mideast peace, which comprises the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, to have Israel and Palestine sides return to negotiation has passed without success.
Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Riad Malki says Israel is to blame for “another missed” opportunity for peace and many other deadline will be missed in the future if the international community continues to lack the “courage to pressure” Israel to accept the 1960s border and freeze settlement expansions on occupied Palestinian territories.
In an exclusive interview with Capital, Malki says Palestine and Arab diplomats will meet on February 4th either in Cairo or Doha to discuss next moves.
According to the top diplomat, they are contemplating pushing further a UN application for full recognition delayed to give way for the quartet’s efforts but nothing has been decided so far.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted full membership application at the UN back in September. However, he is yet to secure nine votes at the 15 member Security Council to force the United States to veto as threatened by Washington.
At the Security Council three African countries, South Africa, Morocco and Togo, are currently members.  Malki says support from South Africa and Morocco is in the bag while he met his Togo counterpart in Addis Ababa on Thursday and will soon visit Togo to “strengthen bilateral relations”. 
In an event of losing at the Security Council the Palestinians are widely expected to head to the UN General Assembly where members have equal vote and even the United States cannot kill any resolution.
The Assembly however cannot give Palestine a full statehood but a lesser status – a non-member state option better known as ‘The Vatican option’. This gives them a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and work of the General Assembly and maintain a permanent observer mission at the UN Headquarters.
According to Malki, in the event of Palestine recognition reaching the General Assembly, Africa is likely to vote in favor. “I have no doubt at Africa – its majority if not all – will vote in favor; this is really a moment Africa has been waiting for to confirm its support and solidarity for Palestine,” Malki told Capital.
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in his address to the UN General Assembly in October said that Ethiopia, which also has close ties with Israel, will wait until the agenda surfaces to make a decision.  “Do not just quote your DPM but also Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who told Arab ambassadors that Ethiopia has a clear policy in supporting Palestine. I have no doubt that if there will be votes in the General Assembly that Ethiopia will vote in favor,” said Malki.
Malki was in Addis Ababa to attend the 18th Summit of the African Union and addressed the African Foreign Affairs Ministers’ gathering. He said they are considering opening more embassies in Africa “as a way to say thank you to many African countries who stood by us during difficult times and keep doing it until this moment.”