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Palestinians to Ask UN to Endorse Statehood

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With the Middle East peace process deadlocked, the Palestinians are threatening to change tactics and bypass the negotiating table.

The Palestinians say they plan to ask the U.N. Security Council to endorse a Palestinian state without Israel's consent. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

"The purpose of such a move is to keep the hope in the minds of Palestinians alive," Erekat said.

Erekat told Israel's Army Radio the Palestinians have lost hope in the peace process since hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office eight months ago. The Palestinians have demanded a complete freeze on Jewish settlement expansion as a precondition for resuming peace talks, but Mr. Netanyahu has refused, offering a partial freeze instead.

Erekat said peace negotiations that began in 1991 have failed to achieve the goal of Palestinian statehood.

"It is very, very obvious to Palestinians now that 18 years later, that the Israeli government is not willing to even resume the negotiations where we left them in December 2008, but their main goal and the main strategy for the government is more settlements," Erekat said.

Israel says peace talks should resume without preconditions, and Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom issued this warning.

"Any unilateral statement that will be made by the Palestinians will not move the Israeli side forward in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians," Shalom said.

Israeli officials say a unilateral declaration of statehood could doom peace efforts, but many Palestinians say the peace process is already dead.