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Thursday, 15 September 2011






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US will veto Palestine’s possible UN-membership-bid

US: The United States has decided to fight to the bitter end to convince the Palestinians to abandon their bid for UN membership, despite the rather small chance that the battle will succeed.

“We want to leave no stone unturned in our effort to get these parties back to the table,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday as two US envoys headed to the Middle East for talks with Israel and the Palestinians.

David Hale, a special US envoy for the Middle East, and White House aide Dennis Ross are to hold talks on Wednesday and Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Their previous trip, just last week, yielded no results. For weeks, Washington has deployed its entire diplomatic arsenal to try to persuade the Palestinians not to submit a formal request to become the 194th member of the United Nations, in the face of US and Israeli opposition.

The United States has repeatedly said that only direct talks between the two sides can lead to genuine Palestinian statehood, and the UN bid — expected on September 20 — will only raise tensions.

This week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and former British leader Tony Blair, who has been the special envoy of the so-called Middle East Quartet — the United States, Russia, United Nations and the EU — since 2007. Clinton is due to speak with Abbas again before week’s end.

“The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties, and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York,” she said Tuesday.

“We are redoubling our efforts, not only with both sides but with a broad cross-section of the international community, to create a sustainable platform for negotiations.” Direct negotiations have been stalled for nearly a year. The Palestinians have vowed to not resume talks while Israel builds in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians have two options — if they present their bid in the UN Security Council, they will surely face a US veto.

If they go before the General Assembly, where they could ask to upgrade their representation from current observer status to non-member state, they have a very good chance of success, as Washington has one vote and no veto.

US President Barack Obama on Monday called the Palestinian bid for UN recognition a “distraction” and said it would not result in viable statehood.

“What happens in New York City can occupy a lot of press attention but is not going to change, actually, what is happening on the ground until the Israelis and Palestinians sit down,” he told reporters. Washington and its European allies have worked all summer on a Quartet initiative that could break the impasse.

Nathan Brown, a Middle East expert at George Washington University, told AFP he is skeptical about any deal that could be reached. AFP



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