Norway Calls Palestinian Statehood Bid ‘Legitimate’

Posted July 19th, 2011 at 12:35 am (UTC-5)
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Norway has called Palestinian plans to seek statehood at the United Nations “legitimate,” but said negotiations with Israel must continue.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said Monday his government will “carefully consider” the Palestinian proposal, and would decide how to vote after seeing the full text.

He spoke after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Oslo. The two sides also signed an agreement upgrading the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Norway.

Norway, which is a major donor to the Palestinians, hosted Middle East peace negotiations in 1993, leading to the Oslo Peace Accords.

Mr. Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel while it builds on land the Palestinians want for a state.

Instead, he has vowed to pursue full U.N. membership for an independent Palestine when the U.N. General Assembly meets in September. Israel says settlements and the borders of a Palestinian state should be negotiated, and that the Palestinian bid would shatter efforts for an agreement.

The United States and some European Union nations have maintained that negotiations are the only way to reach a two-state solution to the conflict.

The Israeli Housing Ministry said Monday it is inviting developers to bid for the construction of 336 housing units in two Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.