Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says an application for Palestinian statehood will be submitted to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September.
President Abbas made his remarks Tuesday as he completed a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he pressed government officials to support a Palestinian bid for statehood. He then traveled to Lebanon, where he will seek more support for the statehood initiative from Lebanese leaders, including President Michel Sleiman.
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lebanon are two of 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Abbas is lobbying U.N. members to recognize a Palestinian state that would include the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem - areas that Israel captured in the 1967 war.
Also Tuesday, international negotiators trying to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal said they are "greatly concerned" about Israel's planned expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The negotiators, known as the Middle East Quartet, include representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States.
On Monday, Israel approved construction of 277 new units in a West Bank settlement, a few days after approving a plan to build 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem.
In other news, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip Tuesday, one in an airstrike and another as he approached the border with Israel.
Israeli and Palestinian officials confirmed that a man was struck by Israeli gunfire as he approached the border late Tuesday. The Israeli army often opens fire on Palestinians who go near the border to prevent them from launching attacks on Israel.
Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian medical sources said one militant was killed and at least four other Palestinians wounded in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said it struck four targets, including a group of militants trying to fire a rocket at Israel.
U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled last September after an Israeli moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank expired. Palestinians oppose construction on land they claim as part of a future state. Israel opposes Palestinian plans to submit an application to the U.N. for statehood.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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