Pressure Mounts at UN Ahead of Israeli, Palestinian Standoff Over Statehood

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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International pressure mounted Wednesday to head off a diplomatic clash at the United Nations, as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pushed ahead with a campaign for full U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.

U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing Israeli and Palestinian leaders to get both sides to return to peace talks. The president held talks with Mr. Netanyahu and was to meet with Mr. Abbas Wednesday.

In an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Obama said there is no “short cut” to peace in the Middle East. He said peace would not come through “statements and resolutions at the United Nations” but through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed setting a one month time limit to resume negotiations and six months to a year to reach an agreement. He told the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday that preconditions “doom” negotiations to fail, adding that negotiators should not look for the non-existent “perfect” solution and should instead choose the “path of compromise.”

During Mr. Netanyahu's meeting with Mr. Obama, the Israeli president said the U.S. pledge to block the Palestinians' statehood bid was a “badge of honor.” The U.S. has vowed to veto the Palestinian effort in the U.N. Security Council.

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.