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Bosnia uncertain over Palestine statehood bid

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - The Associated Press | 8/15/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Bosnia’s foreign minister told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday that his country has not decided yet whether to support a Palestinian push for statehood expected at the U.N. in September.

Bosnia’s foreign minister told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday that his country has not decided yet whether to support a Palestinian push for statehood expected at the U.N. in September.

Abbas began a three-day visit in Bosnia on Sunday and is meeting the nation’s three-member presidency as well as Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj. Bosnia-Herzegovina is a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, which would consider such a Palestinian resolution.

The Palestinians first hope to win two-thirds support in the 192-member U.N. General Assembly at the United Nations, but its decisions aren’t legally binding. That would require approval by the powerful Security Council, where the United States has indicated it would veto any Palestinian move in the absence of a negotiated peace deal with Israel.

Asked to predict how Bosnians would vote, Abbas said he “expects all support from them as they told us and as we believe them.” But Alkalaj said it was up to the Bosnia’s presidency and so far it hasn’t decided.

“I hope and this is one of the most important questions in the world that all of us in Bosnia-Herzegovina want to see peace in this part of the world, and that all people who live there continue with their lives in peace,” Alkalaj said.

He said Bosnia will decide after discussing the issue with allies such as the EU and the U.S. “I think Bosnia-Herzegovina will know how to find a just solution,” said Alkalaj.

In Bosnia, deep divisions remain among Muslim Bosnians, Croats and Serbs who fought each other at various points of the 1992-95 Bosnian war that cost 100,000 lives. Those divisions often prevent its three-member presidency from reaching agreement on domestic and global issues, forcing it to remain neutral instead.

In this case, Bosnia’s Muslims and Catholic Croats may side with the Palestinians for the sake of good relations with the Islamic world, while the Serbs are likely to support Israel.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik promised during his visit to Israel last year that the Bosnian Serbs will oppose Israeli interests at the U.N.

In May Dodik hosted Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who came with a group of Israeli businessmen to visit the Bosnian Serb part of the country. Dodik’s Cabinet said Lieberman was there on vacation.

The Palestinian plan regarding statehood has sparked intense diplomatic efforts by both Israelis and Palestinians to win over as many countries as possible.

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