WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington has launched an effort to avoid a clash stemming from plans by Palestinians to seek recognition as a state at the United Nations, The New York Times reported on Saturday, citing senior U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.
The Obama administration has introduced a plan to restart peace talks with Israel to try to convince Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to give up the bid to seek recognition at the annual meeting of leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, it said.
The administration has told Abbas it would veto any request made to the U.N. Security Council to make a Palestinian nation a new member, the Times said.
But it said Washington lacked support to block a vote by the Assembly to raise the status of the Palestinians to a nonvoter observer state from that of a nonvoting “entity,” which could allow them to join many U.N. bodies, and pursue cases against Israel at the International Criminal Court.
Senior U.S. officials and foreign diplomats, whom the Times did not identify, said the administration wanted to avoid having to cast a veto as well as a General Assembly vote that would leave only the United States and a few other nations opposed to Palestinian nationhood.
“If you put the alternative out there, then you’ve suddenly just changed the circumstances and changed the dynamic,” the newspaper quoted a senior administration official as saying on Thursday. “And that’s what we’re trying very much to do.”
With peace talks with Israel frozen, the Palestinians have vowed to seek full U.N. membership for a state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The European Union has also tried to launch a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, amid deep divisions over the proposed bid for statehood.
The Times said that while some Obama administration officials were hopeful a compromise could be reached to avoid a vote, there were plans to limit the consequences if it took place, including efforts to ensure that Israel and the Palestinians keep cooperating on security in the West Bank and on Israel’s borders.
(Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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