Palestinians threaten to press for statehood

RAMALLAH (AFP) - The Palestinians will launch a diplomatic push in November to gain international recognition for an independent state in spite of Israeli and US warnings, senior negotiator Saeb Erakat said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Mr Erakat dismissed any attempts by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to oppose Palestinian ambitions for statehood.

"If he believes that he can sustain the status quo and (that) we'll do that for him, forget him. This will not last beyond November... we will not take it any more, business as usual no more," said Mr Erakat.

Since the collapse of US-led peace talks with Israel in April, the Palestinians have turned to the United Nations and international organisations to seek recognition for their state.

In 2012, the Palestinians won the status of UN observer state.

With peace talks now bogged down, the Palestinians have warned they would go ahead with plans to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding an end to Israeli occupation.

But an initiative in the Security Council is sure to meet firm opposition from the United States, which has repeatedly vetoed resolutions seen as undermining Israel.

As part of their diplomatic offensive they are also determined to seek to join the International Criminal Court, where they could sue Israeli officials over allegations of war crimes.

Mr Erakat said "the state of Palestine has the full intention... (to) become a member of the ICC."

A senior negotiator in the failed US-brokered peace talks with Israel, Mr Erakat said that US Secretary of State John Kerry told him in Cairo this month that Washington would oppose the Palestinian initiatives.

"I don't know if he (Kerry) used the term veto, (but) he said (going to) the Security Council is not an option. He was very clear with me."

Mr Erakat said Kerry reiterated Washington's support for a two-state solution to resolve the conflict but told him to refrain from any action that would "undermine" US efforts to resume peace talks.