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Palestinians Renew Threat to Seek UN Recognition

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (file photo)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (file photo)

The Palestinian president says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not warn him against taking unilateral steps toward statehood when Israel has been building West Bank settlements on its own for decades.

President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that given Israel's history of setting up roadblocks and constructing Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, Mr. Netanyahu should not lecture the Palestinians about the possible step of asking the United Nations to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Palestinian officials have previously mentioned the possibility of approaching the U.N. to secure recognition of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war - as their future state.

Mr. Netanyahu criticized the proposition Sunday, saying direct negotiations are the Palestinians' only option to achieve true peace with Israel. He said any attempt to circumvent talks by going to international bodies is "not realistic."

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are at the heart of the current crisis over peace talks restarted last month. An Israeli monitoring group says settlers have begun building more than 600 homes since a partial construction freeze expired last month.

The Palestinians insist they will not negotiate while settlement building continues and have recently suggested they would seek other solutions if the talks fail.