|A regional council worker places Israeli flags near Nablus in response to the PLO’s bid for statehood at the UN [Reuters]|
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that this week’s bid by the Palestinians for UN membership has no chance of success and that they would ultimately seek renewed talks.
“Their attempt to be accepted as a member of the United Nations will fail,” he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “That attempt will fail, since it has to pass through the Security Council.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has promised Palestinians he will seek UN membership from the Security Council on Friday.
The move comes despite stiff opposition from Israel and the US, who say that only direct negotiations can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas left neighbouring Jordan on Sunday bound for New York, where he is to meet heads of state attending the UN General Assembly, his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said.
The US, Israel’s main ally, has already announced it is prepared to use its veto to block the Palestinian bid in the Security Council.
“As a result of the actions of the United States, which is working closely with us, and of other governments with which we and the Americans are working, I predict that this attempt will fail,” Netanyahu said.
“In the end, after the smoke clears and after everything that happens at the UN, the Palestinians will come to their senses, I hope, drop these moves to bypass negotiations and return to the table in order to bring peace to us and our neighbours.”
The US and Europe have stepped up a diplomatic scramble Sunday to avoid a UN showdown on the Palestinian plan to seek full UN membership.
US, European Union, Russian and UN officials were all involved in the bid to seek a face-saving way out of the looming confrontation.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton in New York, where the Middle East diplomatic Quartet’s envoy, Tony Blair, was to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Blair said on Sunday that he hoped for a last-minute compromise which would allow the Palestinians to express their desire for self-determination while opening the door to renewed talks.
“What we will be looking for over the next few days is a way of putting together something that allows their claims and legitimate aspirations for statehood to be recognised, whilst actually renewing the only thing that’s going to produce a state – which is a negotiation directly between the two sides,” Blair told ABC television.
“Let’s see if we can craft something that allows the Palestinians to come to the United Nations, to advance their aspirations for statehood that also at the same time allows us to develop a framework for negotiations so that they get back to talking.”
Twelve months ago, US President Barack Obama said he wanted to see a Palestinian state at the UN within a year.
Britain, France and Germany will have decisive votes on the council. All of their UN envoys say that no decision on how to vote has been taken because they have not seen a Palestinian resolution.
The Palestinians’ willingness to return to direct talks will play a central role in their decision, envoys added.
Netanyahu compared the Security Council to the UN’s government, while the General Assembly, he said, was more like a parliament.
“There you can pass almost any resolution,” he said. “They could decide that the sun rises in the west and sinks in the east, but it doesn’t have the same weight and the same importance as the Security Council.”
Netanyahu has said he too will go to the UN to explain Israel’s opposition to the Palestinian move.
Like Abbas, he is to speak on September 23, a government official said.
The White House says Netanyahu is also likely to meet US President Barack Obama in New York.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians foundered nearly a year ago in a dispute over Israel’s continued construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.