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Response by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to a Russian Media Question Regarding Palestine’s UN Bid, New York, September 22, 2011


Question: Are there any attempts being made at the rapprochement of positions on the question of Palestine’s bid for UN recognition of its statehood, in order to prevent a US veto? Can there be a compromise here?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: First of all, it is up to Palestinians themselves. It’s about their country, their problem which must be tackled on the basis of UN Security Council documents, and other elements of the internationally recognized legal framework, including the Madrid and Oslo principles, and the Arab Peace Initiative. All these approaches have been consolidated in recent years in the Quartet’s decisions and the resolutions of the UN Security Council. They set out the parameters for a final settlement to be reached through direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. This is the Russian position. There can be no compromise here in terms of the decisions of the international community that laid the basis for a settlement and have binding force.

As to future action, I met with all members of the Quartet – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as with PNA President Mahmoud Abbas, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States and its individual representatives. I will talk tomorrow with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. We presume that the decision should be made in accordance with legal norms and procedures. The Palestinians have every right to ask the UN Security Council to consider their application for United Nations membership. I think that before taking this step, the Palestinians have figured out the further development of events. Russia has long ago recognized the State of Palestine, and we see no problem to support this bid. The position of other countries may be somewhat different. I'd prefer not to speculate about who and how they will vote. I can only say that attempting now to find a way out of this situation by discarding all that has been approved and accepted by the international community in a legally binding form, will not work. If someone wants to rewrite the terms of settlement approved by the United Nations Security Council, he should go to the Council and propose to review the parameters repeatedly endorsed by all, including in the numerous statements of the Quartet.

That’s what’s really at issue here. Just at the level of the Quartet, without the participation of the Security Council, to rewrite the core principles that we’ve all been guided by for many years and which we’ve reconfirmed more than once is legally impossible.

I repeat, it’s, of course, for the Palestinians to decide. We would prefer to see the issue resolved by consensus. There are also suggestions that they ask the UN General Assembly not for membership, but for an observer state status. But we cannot impose this or that decision on them: the Palestinians have come a long way, they were promised many times that in a year or a year and a half, the problem would be solved.

I assume that any negotiation process must evolve constructively, without any artificial deadlines. But, unfortunately, it is making no headway, but stands at an impasse. I am sure that the Palestinians do not want to undermine the talks, it’s just very important for them to “dramatize” the urgent need for their renewal, but on the existing international legal basis, rather than at the expense of their abandoning it in order to just sit down at the table and start talking from scratch.