RAMALLAH, September 5, 2011 (WAFA) - PLO Executive Committee member and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hanan Ashrawi, Monday urged Belgium Prime Minister Yves Leterme to support Palestine’s UN membership bid.
Ashrawi met Leterme to discuss Palestinian initiatives at the United Nations this September. The meeting was held in Jerusalem at the request of Leterme, and focused on ways to ensure the success of Palestine’s bid for UN membership, said a statement by Ashrawi’s office, which described the discussions as both positive and valuable.
“Belgium has always maintained a principled and constructive approach towards peace and Palestinian rights, and we urge the Prime Minister to recognize Palestinian statehood and vote in favor of Palestine’s membership at the United Nations,” said Ashrawi.
“The two-state solution is not an open-ended proposition. What we are trying to do is place the pursuit of peace on a firm foundation of international law and multilateralism, and to stop unilateral and prejudicial Israeli measures from destroying what chances exist for peace.”
Ashrawi singled out for particular criticism Israel’s illegal annexation of Jerusalem, increased settlement activity throughout the West Bank, Israel’s construction of its apartheid Wall, as well as its ongoing siege over Gaza and its fragmentation of the West Bank through hundreds of checkpoints, said the statement.
Discussions also included an assessment of regional developments, particularly the Arab Spring, which promises to reinvigorate the Arab will in support of Palestinian rights and to reconfigure regional as well as global relations and interests.
Prime Minister Leterme stressed the importance of achieving a unified EU position before September, and emphasized his strong support for the ongoing efforts of High Representative Catherine Ashton to achieve a consensus position among EU members. He also indicated his commitment to ongoing dialogue and cooperation with the Palestinians.
In a separate meeting with Senators Marie Arena, Hassan Bousetta and Olga Zrihen, who are also visiting the region from Belgium, Ashrawi thanked the Belgium Senate on behalf of the Palestinian people for its recent resolution in support of Palestinian statehood and for its continued support of Palestinian rights.
Discussing the many ways in which Israel’s occupation impacts Palestinian life, as well as Palestinian aspirations for freedom and justice, Ashrawi emphasized that Palestinians were well within their rights to approach the UN, and to seek redress through all available legal avenues. For their part, the three senators promised to pursue their efforts to influence official decision making both in Belgium and in Europe, as well as to enhancing ties between Belgium and Palestine.