Friday, May 25, 2018
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Palestinians push for U.N. membership

Israeli leader calls for renewed peace talks


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures before the start of a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Palestinian leader said Monday he had not been swayed by ‘tremendous pressure’ to drop the step toward statehood.


UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinians brushed aside heated Israeli objections and a promised U.S. veto Monday, vowing to submit a letter formally requesting full U.N. membership when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the General Assembly on Friday.

As the Palestinians edged closer to seeking statehood recognition from the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Mr. Abbas to meet with him in New York. The Israel leader said he wanted to resume peace talks, upping the pressure on Mr. Abbas and building on the frenzied diplomacy swirling around the Palestinians bid.

Regardless, Mr. Abbas said he had not been swayed by what he called “tremendous pressure” to drop the bid for United Nations recognition and instead to resume peace talks with Israel. Senior aides to the Palestinian leader said Mr. Abbas was undaunted by threats of punitive measures.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, however, there was still time to find a solution to the diplomatic crisis.

Ms. Clinton told reporters in New York that the United States is talking with all sides to defuse the standoff. She joined Mr. Netanyahu in calling for new talks and repeated the U.S. position that the only path to a separate state for Palestinians is through negotiations with Israel.

Nabil Shaath, a senior aide to Mr. Abbas, told the Associated Press that the Palestinian leader informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during their meeting Monday he would present him with a letter requesting full membership on Friday, ahead of Mr. Abbas’ speech to the General Assembly.

Mr. Shaath said the secretary-general promised to “speed up the discussion of the request.”

Mr. Shaath said last-ditch efforts to dissuade the Palestinian president from approaching the Security Council had failed and offers had fallen short of Palestinian aspirations. He said Palestinians had been threatened with harsh punitive measures but they had decided to move ahead nonetheless.

The comment appeared to reflect the warnings by some in the U.S. Congress that current and future financial aid to the Palestinian Authority could be in jeopardy if it moves ahead with the membership bid.

The push at the world body is the first step to statehood for Palestinians who have for decades complained of being guests in their own land.

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