Palestinian Authority ready to runs its own country, says UN
The Palestinian Authority is ready to govern its own country, a United Nations report said on Tuesday, paving the way for the general assembly to declare an independent state later this year.
It said that the Palestinians had made significant advances in education, health and infrastructure policies and in areas of law and human rights.
However, the report said that the authority was held back because of the continued Israeli occupation of much of the West Bank and a breakdown in Middle East peace talks.
"Measures of occupation which stifle Palestinian life need to be fundamentally rolled back by more far reaching Israeli actions to match the progress of the state-building programme," the report said.
President Barack Obama's US-led peace talks and UN state building efforts – centred on Tony Blair's office – are due to expire in September.
Palestinian leaders aim then to ask the United Nations General Assembly for recognition of statehood on all of the territory Israel occupied in 1967, including Gaza, a move the assembly is expected to approve.
Although the measure would not affect Israel's military dominance, a declaration would leave the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, as well as Jewish parts of east Jerusalem, inside the borders of the new Palestinian state.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was yesterday said to be considering a large-scale withdrawal of military forces from the West Bank. He has accepted a Palestinian state would be recognised by more than 100 countries.
In a statement accompanying the report, the UN Middle East envoy, Robert Serry, said it was vital for Israelis and Palestinians to resume talks.
"I ... stress the urgent need for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on a two-state solution to resume, if the state building and political tracks are to come together by September," he said.
The report was the second positive assessment of Palestinian officials in a month.
The International Monetary Fund last week declared the authority under Salam Fayyad, the technocrat prime minister, had sound economic policies.
European efforts to break the stalemate by having the Ban Ki-moon formally outline the borders of a future Palestine were vetoed by the US this week.
Mr Netanyahu's refusal to stop settlement building has proved an insurmountable hurdle for President Obama's own peace drive.
"It's clear that Netanyahu doesn't feel under pressure to rejoin negotiations and there is very little headway for negotiation elsewhere," said one European diplomat. "Therefore recognition has become the main issue."
Changes sweeping the Middle East have alarmed many Israelis who fear a more unstable region. A growing chorus has called on Mr Netanyahu to cut a deal with the Palestinians while Israel's regional position is comparatively strong.
Fomer heads of the military and intelligence services will on Wednesday launch the Israeli Peace Initiative, which calls for immediate talks on forming a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.