Palestinians to seek UN support for state-official
* PLO to seek U.N. Security Council backing for state
* Israel says move would damage peace efforts
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The Palestinians are planning to take their quest for independence to the U.N. Security Council, aiming to secure international recognition for a state, the chief Palestinian negotiator said on Sunday.
Saeb Erekat said there was no time frame for the diplomatic initiative. "When we are ready, we will go," he told Reuters.
"We have taken an Arab foreign ministers' decision to seek the help of the international community," he said.
Palestinians attributed the move to frustration at the lack of progress in peace negotiations with Israel which have been stalled since last December.
Despite months of diplomacy, the United States has failed to broker a resumption of those talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas has stuck by his demand for a total halt to Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank before any return to peace talks. He has resisted recent U.S. pressure to resume negotiations right away.
Abbas, head of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, aims to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in a 1967 war.
Mohammed Dahlan, a senior official from Abbas's Fatah faction, told reporters that the diplomatic initiative had been agreed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation executive which Abbas chairs.
"We are now leading a diplomatic battle," Dahlan said.
But he added that Palestinians still held open the option for "popular, comprehensive resistance against settlement and the occupation" although he did not say whether this could also take a violent form.
The United States, which had called for a freeze of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, eased pressure on Israel in September by calling only for "restraint".
Erekat said the United States and other major international players would be consulted ahead of going to the Security Council. "If the Americans cannot get the Israelis to stop settlement activities, they should also not cover them when we decide to go to the Security Council," he said.
A senior Israeli minister speaking before Sunday's weekly Israeli cabinet meeting in Jerusalem said such a move would harm peace efforts.
"I think any unilateral statement that will be made by the Palestinians will not move the Israeli side forward in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians," Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said. (Writing by Tom Perry; additional reporting by Ali Sawafta, and Eli Berlzon in Jerusalem; editing by Robin Pomeroy)
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