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S. Africa voices support for Palestine's statehood

(Xinhua)

10:56, September 22, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday voiced his country's support for Palestine's statehood, urging the UN should not be dominated by the "interests of one country".

He made the statement when addressing a high-level annual debate of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

"We should define the independence and impartiality of the UN and promote the principles of its charter during conflicts and crises," he said, adding the UN should never be dominated by the interests of one country, regardless of that country's size or history.

Zuma said that South Africa also favors granting UN statehood to Palestine, and as a current non-permanent member of the Security Council, South Africa's vote would help make this ambition a reality for Palestinians.

"South Africa fully supports this position," Zuma said. "It is a decisive step towards achieving lasting peace, economic cooperation, and prosperity for the millions of people in the Middle East, and we urge that it be viewed favorably."

The Palestinian delegation, currently an observer at the UN, is seeking to obtain statehood, which would have to be approved by the 15-nation council. However, in spite of the statements of some council members that they would approve the bid, permanent council member, the U.S., a close Israeli ally, has indicated that it will use its veto power to stop the measure in its tracks.

If the request for full statehood fails, Palestinians have the option of gaining the lesser but still upgraded status of non- member observer state by going through the General Assembly, where veto power is not a factor.

In his speech, Zuma also pressed for UN reforms, saying "No reform can be complete without the substantive reform of the Security Council whose membership must be consistent with the principle of equitable geographical representation."

He reiterate the call for Africa to be represented in the permanent category of the Security Council.

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