Abbas repeats offer of talks with Israel after UN upgrade

Updated 13 November 2012
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Abbas repeats offer of talks with Israel after UN upgrade

CAIRO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeated an offer on Monday to restart peace talks with Israel after a UN vote to recognize Palestine as an observer state later this month.
“We had agreed to go get the vote on November 29 ... the majority needed for the vote will be on our side,” Abbas told reporters of the planned UN vote. He was speaking in Cairo at a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers.
“If it is possible to start talks on the following day (after acquiring the observer status) then we are ready for that,” Abbas added.
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority circulated a draft resolution to UN member states on Wednesday calling for upgrading its UN status to that of observer state, despite objections by the United States and Israel.
Washington says it favors eventual statehood for Palestine, but wants it to come as a result of negotiations with Israel. The United States can block full recognition of Palestine as a UN member at the Security Council, where it has a veto, but the 193-nation UN General Assembly can still grant observer status.
Abbas’s proposal, to be put to a vote in the General Assembly later this month, would implicitly recognize Palestinian statehood and could also grant access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“We do not want to clash with anyone, neither with America nor with Israel nor with anyone else,” Abbas said. He asked the Arab League states for their “blessings.”
The upgrade seems certain to win approval in any vote in the 193-nation General Assembly, which is composed mostly of post-colonial states historically sympathetic to the Palestinians.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled over Israel’s refusal to first halt settlement building in territory where the Palestinians want their state.


Iraqi PM Abadi says election fraud allegations to be investigated

Updated 45 min 8 sec ago
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Iraqi PM Abadi says election fraud allegations to be investigated

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on Thursday that allegations of fraud in national elections held last week will be investigated, according to a statement from his office.
The electoral list of Moqtada Al-Sadr, a populist Shiite cleric, unexpectedly won the biggest number of seats in the May 12 ballot.
The fraud claims have centered on the city of Kirkuk — although there have been reports of irregularities in multiple provinces — and focused on the tabulation system in electronic voting machines that were used for the first time during the election.
A special committee appointed by the cabinet will investigate the allegations, Abadi’s office said.
Some candidates have also expressed concerns about voter intimidation and reports of chaotic distribution of ID cards, which they claim disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people.
Following several days of complaints — including a call for an investigation by the UN’s senior envoy to Iraq, Jan Kubis — the country’s electoral commission said on Monday it had invalidated ballots from 103 polling stations in five provinces.
The investigatory committee, which will include advisers from the security and intelligence sectors, will have access to all documents pertaining to the electoral process, including from the electoral commission.
The commission could not immediately be reached for comment.