World Powers to Discuss Palestinian Statehood Bid

Posted September 17th, 2011 at 1:00 pm (UTC-5)
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The group known as the Mideast Quartet will meet in New York on Sunday in what could be a last-ditch effort to persuade Palestinians to abandon plans to seek United Nations statehood recognition next week.

The meeting of the group — comprised of the U.S., EU, U.N. and Russia — comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Palestinian's U.N. statehood plan “futile.”

Mr. Netanyahu issued a statement after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas voiced support for a U.N. Security Council decision on the statehood question that would make Palestinians eligible for full U.N. membership.

Mr. Abbas said Friday that U.N. membership is a legitimate right for Palestinians. He said peace talks with Israel have failed. However, Mr. Netanyahu said Palestinian leaders have “consistently” evaded negotiations with the Jewish state.

The Palestinians currently have observer status at the U.N., where Israel and the U.S. have voiced opposition to unilateral Palestinian moves toward statehood.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Saturday that negotiations were the only way to “deliver the peace and two-state solution” that Palestinians want.

The U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled a year ago, after an Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlement construction expired. Palestinians oppose construction on land they want as part of a future state. Mr. Abbas has said a Palestinian state must have the borders that were in place before Israel took control of Palestinian territories in 1967.

Separately, U.S. officials say President Barack Obama will meet Mr. Netanyahu in coming days to discuss the stalled peace talks. American envoys in the Middle East have been meeting with both Israelis and Palestinians in an attempt to revive those negotiations and prevent the Palestinian statehood bid from coming up at the U.N.