Obama Makes Plea to Delay Palestinian Statehood Bid at UN

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 11:25 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday to get both sides to return to peace talks ahead of a United Nations showdown over a Palestinian bid for statehood.

Mr. Obama met in New York late Wednesday morning with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, ahead of a separate sitdown with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The meetings come as Palestinians push ahead with plans to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations. The U.S. has vowed to veto the Palestinian effort in the U.N. Security Council.

In an address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said peace would not come through “statements and resolutions at the United Nations” but through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Thousands of Palestinians rallied in towns across the West Bank Wednesday in support of the push for recognition of a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, 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.

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.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday there will be no new freeze on settlement building.