Abbas Pushes Ahead with UN Bid for Palestinian State

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 9:11 am (UTC-5)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is holding meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Foreign Secretary William Hague Tuesday as he presses the Palestinian bid in New York for United Nations recognition.

There was no public Palestinian reply to an offer from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Monday on the Palestinian leader to meet with him in New York to resume peace talks.

Mr. Netanyahu on Monday appealed to the Palestinian leader to open direct talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings and continue them in Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Israeli leader's appeal increases pressure on Mr. Abbas to stall the Palestinians' U.N. application but does not provide any indication as to whether Mr. Netanyahu is willing to agree to any Palestinian demands.

Mr. Netanyahu flies to New York on Tuesday and is scheduled to meet this week with U.S. President Barack Obama. Mr. Netanyahu has said the Palestinians' U.N. bid is doomed to fail and that Palestinians would ultimately seek renewed talks.

The Israeli leader's call on Monday to relaunch stalled talks came as Mr. Abbas outlined his plan for full membership in the world body to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. chief responded by calling on the Palestinians and Israelis to resume negotiations within what he called “a legitimate and balanced framework.”

Mr. Abbas met on Monday with France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who says the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to resume negotiations.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Monday the United States also is urging a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as a way to avoid a diplomatic crisis over the Palestinian membership bid.

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 the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.