Palestinians urged to talk, not press U.N.

Sept. 20, 2011 at 4:00 AM   |   Comments

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Washington pressed Palestinian leaders not to ask the United Nations to declare Israeli-occupied land independent, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"We continue to believe and are pressing the point that the only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations," Clinton told reporters in New York.

"No matter what does or doesn't happen this week, it will not produce the kind of result that everyone is hoping for," she said.

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said "all hell has broken out against us" over the bid for statehood recognition -- which Washington and Israel see as severely hurting the chances of resuming Middle East peace efforts -- but he told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon he would not be diverted from his plan to make the request to the Security Council Friday.

Washington, which is upset because Abbas is going the United Nations without agreement with Israel, has promised to veto the Palestinian request. However, it is hoping to avoid the embarrassment of a veto by seeking to persuade enough of the 10 non-permanent Security Council members to vote against Palestinian statehood -- or to abstain from the vote, in the hope of denying Abbas the nine votes needed to win the declaration, Britain's Guardian reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered to meet with Abbas in New York this week and restart negotiations. Netanyahu said Aug. 1 Israel would be willing to resume peace talks based on its 1967 prewar borders if the Palestinian Authority stopped seeking U.N. Palestinian state recognition and if Palestinian leaders recognized Israel as a Jewish state.

The so-called Middle East quartet of the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations met Monday night in an attempt to construct a formula to restart peace talks and stave off a Security Council showdown, diplomats said.

The diplomats said the key is to make the proposal strong enough -- in part by stating clearly that negotiations will be on the basis of 1967 prewar borders with some swaps of territories -- so Abbas can claim a significant step toward ending the occupation, the Guardian said.

Other ideas under consideration are to make a modest upgrade to Palestinian U.N. status and set a timeline for renewed negotiations, the diplomats said.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who arrived in New York Monday, was to meet with Netanyahu this week, but the White House announced no immediate plans for Obama to meet Abbas.

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