Palestine lobbies for place at UN table

PALESTINIANS will seek recognition as a United Nations' member state in September, following the deadlock in negotiations over the Middle East peace crisis last week between United States president Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A spokesman for moderate Palestinian president Mahmood Abbas yesterday urged Obama, who has previously criticised the move, to join other countries in endorsing a Palestinian state taking in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Another Palestinian official, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said the drive to win statehood status unilaterally could be forestalled if Israel accepts the demand to extend a freeze on its settlement on occupied land so negotiations can resume.

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But no such rapprochement looked imminent after Israeli premier Netanyahu, who visited Washington on Friday, sparred with Obama over a new American call for the future Palestinian state to have a border approximating the West Bank's boundary before Israel captured it in the 1967 Six Day War.

"Of course, we will go to the United Nations," Nabil Shaath, an aide to Palestinian president Abbas, said "Especially after Netanyahu used the old pretext that he needs 'defensible borders' to keep stealing our land, control the Jordan Valley and create demographic facts on the ground."

Diplomats expect majority support for the Palestinians in the UN General Assembly, but the statehood vote would have first to be approved in the Security Council, where the US - which insists on a negotiated peace - has a veto.