Obama to Meet Netanyahu, Abbas in NY Wednesday

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 7:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama will hold separate meetings in New York Wednesday with his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the push to head off a Mideast diplomatic clash at the United Nations intensifies.

Mr. Abbas is pushing ahead with a campaign for full U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, despite international efforts to avoid a vote at the Security Council. Mr. Obama's administration has pledged to veto such a move and is working to get Mr. Abbas and the Israeli prime minister back into direct peace talks instead.

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Abbas met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Senior diplomats from the Mideast Quartet – the U.S., EU, U.N. and Russia – are meeting throughout the week in hopes of a last-minute breakthrough. The Quartet has been trying to put together guidelines for future peace talks, so far without result.

Mr. Netanyahu has publicly called on the Palestinian leader to meet with him in New York to resume direct peace talks, and to 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 of whether Mr. Netanyahu is willing to agree to any Palestinian demands.

Mr. Netanyahu has said the Palestinians' U.N. bid is doomed to fail and that Palestinians ultimately will seek renewed talks. However, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday his government “fully” supports the Palestinian bid for statehood.

On Monday, 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.”

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.