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Palestinian hopes of rallying 9 vote majority at Security Council suffer with Bosnia stalemate
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) ' Palestinian hopes of rallying the required nine vote majority in a Security Council vote were struck a major blow Monday with a Bosnian presidential adviser saying the country will be forced to abstain from any U.N. vote for Palestinian statehood.
Palestinian officials have said they already have eight votes, and had counted heavily on Bosnia to give them the ninth.
The United States has promised to veto the measure in any case. But the Palestinians had hoped to win enough support to trigger the veto, which would have embarrassed the U.S. by forcing it to go against the will of the international community.
Dzenan Selimbegovic, an adviser to the three-member presidency, said Monday that because the trio still disagrees on the issue, there is no official stand and the chance of someone changing his mind is "theoretical."
"Officially the presidency has no position and if there is no position then the Bosnian ambassador to the U.N. has no position," he told The Associated Press.
The three presidents had to agree in order for Bosnia to vote. So far the Muslim Bosniak leader supports the bid, the Serb member is pro-Israeli and the Croat member has not yet not clearly stated his position. The three members have to agree on a common policy or abstain.
With peace talks stalled for the past three years, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the Security Council in September to admit the Palestinians as a full member state. The Palestinians say that although any vote will not end Israel's occupation of lands they claim, they believe a strong international endorsement would boost their position in future negotiations.
The U.S. and Israel have argued that peace can be achieved only through negotiations.
The Palestinians have been trying to arrange a Nov. 11 vote in the Security Council, though Abbas acknowledged in an interview on Israeli TV last week that he might not be able to muster nine votes.
In the West Bank town of Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian government, Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim clergymen held a news conference on Monday urging Bosnia to reconsider its Security Council position.
"I was shocked today when I received the statement saying the Serbian president of Bosnia rejected recognition of Palestine," said Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hana.
"I assume the Serbian president of Bosnia would represent the morals of the Orthodox Church, which always stood beside the oppressed in the world."
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters in late September that the membership bid has support so far from eight Security Council members: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Lebanon, Nigeria and Gabon. He said the Palestinians are lobbying for more votes, including from Bosnia and Colombia.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Colombia on Oct. 11 and was told by President Juan Manuel Santos that Colombia will only recognize a Palestinian state that has been established through negotiations with Israel, leaving Bosnia as the likely key to a ninth "yes" vote.
Mohammed Daraghmeh contributed to this story from Ramallah