RAMALLAH, West Bank — The West Bank Palestinian leadership formally decided Sunday to press ahead with efforts in September to win U.N. recognition of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in what could be a blow to efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The leadership, made up of the Palestine Liberation Organization's decision-making body and officials of the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government in the West Bank, said in a statement that the goal was to bring a state of Palestine into the family of nations of the world.
It approved the approach in principle, according to the statement, without adding operative steps about how to follow on from recognition.
The idea of asking the U.N. General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state inside the cease-fire lines that held until the 1967 Mideast War is a reflection of Palestinian frustration with stalemated peace talks with Israel.
In recent weeks, however, Palestinian leaders have given signs of backing away from the initiative and toward softening their position over the renewal of peace negotiations, as both the U.N. initiative and their drive to set up a unity government with the rival Hamas in Gaza have foundered.
Some Palestinians think that, contrary to the notion that U.N. recognition would stymie peace talks, such world status would force Israel to make concessions when negotiations resume.
Recognition of a Palestinian state by the U.N. General Assembly would carry considerable diplomatic weight but would not carry legal clout. Only the U.N. Security Council can add a nation to the world body, and the U.S. government has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the move, while stopping short of saying it would veto such a resolution.
Israel has denounced the Palestinian U.N. initiative, saying that it torpedoes efforts to reach a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
NAALIN CROSSING, West Bank — Israel began tearing down a section of its contentious West Bank separation barrier Sunday in a rerouting that marked a major victory for the residents of Bilin and the international groups that have backed their struggle. But they said it fell short of their demands to remove the structure from the village altogether and vowed to continue with their weekly protests.
The dismantling comes four years after Israel's Supreme Court ordered it torn down, rejecting the military's argument that the route was necessary to secure the nearby Modiin Illit settlement.
Israel began building the barrier in late 2002 to keep out Palestinian attackers amid a wave of suicide bombers targeting its cities.
But the barrier juts into the West Bank, and critics say the route is designed to grab land that Palestinians want for a state. The barrier, when completed, is projected to swallow some 6 percent to 8 percent of the West Bank.