- Statehood issue will be delayed until after U.S. presidential elections
- Palestinian Authority negotiatior lashes out at Mitt Romney
- Recently released tape includes Romney expressing little hope for Middle East peace
- Statehood bid failed last year in UN Security Council
Nearly a year after its failed bid to win United Nations recognition as an independent state, the Palestinian Authority is preparing to try again -- but not until after the November presidential elections in the United States, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said Thursday.
But unlike last year's attempt, which stalled in the United Nations Security Council, the Palestinian Authority will this time seek non-member observer status, one step up from its current status as a permanent observer.
Palestinian Authority leaders say they are working with as many as 170 nations to put together the wording of a formal draft of a resolution that would likely be submitted a few weeks after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally announces the effort to United Nations General Assembly. That is expected to happen September 27.
The resolution would not likely be submitted before the November 6 U.S. presidential election because Palestian offcials do not want the issue to become political fodder, Erakat said.
Erakat, however, did lash out at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for recently publicized comments from May, in which the former Massachusetts governor appears to say he has little hope for Middle East peace.
"I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, 'There's just no way,' " Romney said.
The secretly taped remarks were made at the same May fundraiser where Romney is heard discussing how he believes 47% of the U.S. population will not support him in the November presidential election because they are, in his words, "dependent on government."
Erakat accused Romney of exporting "doom and gloom."
"I would say to Mr. Romney, "Sir, no one stands to gain more from peace than Palestinians,' " Erakat said. "I think that leaders, even presidential candidacies, must export hope, must focus on solutions and those who believe in democracy and peace must redouble their efforts, irrespective of the difficulties we face in this region."
The renewed statehood effort comes less than a year after a more ambitious full statehood bid died because it could not get a majority of votes on the Security Council.
Israel's Foreign Affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor said the upcoming effort is similarly doomed.
"Any attempt to use shortcuts for state recognition is purely delusional. There are no shortcuts. The long and winding road must go through the necessary phases of negotiation, agreements implementation of agreements and only then U.N. recognition. Any attempt to take a shortcut will end up in a short circuit."
"They are saying 'We don't want negotiations, no agreements, we'll go straight for the final prize,' " Palmor said. "No other U.N. member has ever taken this kind of shortcut and they are trying to set a very dangerous precedent."
Palestinian leaders argue they have the right to go to the U.N. because Israel failed to comply with agreements it signed more than 20 years ago. The last round of negotiations with Israel and the Palestinian National Authority was in 2010.
"It's about a contract. Our contract is that in five years we should have concluded the treaty of peace and all core issues. This did not happen and we're talking about 20 years later. And going to the U.N. is not a unilateral step," Erakat said.
Non-member state status would eliminate Israeli justifications for building settlements in the disputed areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Erakat said.
"Once Palestine gains the status of a nonmember state, no Israeli can argue that these are disputed territories. And all the actions of Israel fait accompli would become null and void."