Abbas to ask UN to accept Palestinians as full members
Obama, Netanyahu to meet on sidelines of General Assembly
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday he will ask the UN Security Council next week to endorse his statehood bid, a step that would risk a threatened U.S. veto in the council.
But in a speech to followers before departing for New York, President Mahmoud Abbas appeared to leave himself some wiggle room, saying he did not rule out other, unspecified options.
He also acknowledged that his UN move would not end the conflict Israel and cautioned against outsized hopes.
"We don't want to raise expectations by saying we are going to come back with full independence," Abbas said in an address to Palestinian leaders.
He said he was going to the United Nations to "ask the world to shoulder its responsibilities" by backing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
He urged Palestinians to refrain from violence, saying "anything other than peaceful moves will harm us and sabotage our endeavours."
Israel and the U.S. oppose the Palestinians' quest for a UN nod, saying the only way to deliver a Palestinian state is through negotiations, the cornerstone of Mideast peace efforts for the past two decades.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Thursday that Abbas would submit his statehood bid to UN chief Ban Ki-moon after addressing the General Assembly on Sept. 23.
Although things will not change on the ground, the Palestinians hope the UN move will give them greater leverage in future negotiations with Israel by elevating their international profile and giving them access to world bodies like the International Criminal Court.
Obama, Netanyahu to meet
Earlier Friday, the White House announced U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week to discuss ways to get Middle East peace talks back on track.
Israel strongly opposes the Palestinians' UN effort, and the U.S. has promised to veto the measure.
The U.S. contends that the only way for the Palestinians to truly achieve statehood is through direct negotiations with Israel.
Rhodes said there were no plans for Obama to meet with Abbas in New York next week. He also said Obama had not spoken with Abbas recently.
A senior U.S. diplomatic team is in the region making a last-ditch effort to persuade the Palestinians to drop the UN bid when Abbas appears before the General Assembly on Sept. 23. While Palestinian leaders have not closed the door on the prospect of a compromise, the chances of breakthrough appear slim.
Obama is scheduled to arrive in New York on Monday evening.