A showdown is looming during the coming week at the United Nations General Assembly, when Palestinian leaders say they will petition the international community to recognize the Palestinian Authority as an independent state, eligible for full U.N. membership.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinians' plan to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations is "futile." Netanyahu was responding to a speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Friday.
Abbas said he will ask the U.N. Security Council to accept the Palestinians as a full member state because their peace talks with Israel have failed.
He said the Palestinians are the only people in the world who remain under occupation.
In a statement, Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of "consistently evading" negotiations. He called on the Palestinian Authority "to abandon unilateral steps" and said it would then "find Israel to be a genuine partner" for peace.
The Palestinians have refused to resume peace talks until Israel stops all settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel rejects that, saying negotiations must resume without preconditions.
Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, says that by bypassing talks and going to the U.N., the Palestinians are violating previous peace agreements, and that could result in Israeli sanctions.
"They committed themselves to solving all issues of contention with Israel at the negotiating table," he said. "And you've seen very senior people in my government say that if the Palestinians feel free to abrogate their commitments, surely Israel should at least consider doing the same."
The Palestinians could also be on a collision course with the United States, which backs Israel's position that direct negotiations are the only way to achieve Palestinian independence and peace. The U.S. has warned that if the Palestinians bring their bid for statehood to the U.N. Security Council, America will use its veto.
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