News / Middle East

UN Security Council Considers Palestinian Statehood Bid

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The U.N. Security Council says it will meet Wednesday to formally consider the Palestinian bid for statehood and full U.N. membership, a move many see as certain to fail.

Council President Nawaf Salam of Lebanon briefed reporters about the decision Monday after the group held preliminary talks in New York. He gave no further details.

Despite a U.S. threat to veto the Palestinian bid, the divided 15-nation body is expected to form a special committee later this week to examine the application submitted last Friday by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. A month or more could pass before the Council is ready to vote.

The United States and Israel are intensively lobbying Security Council members to oppose or abstain. Four non-permanent members - Bosnia, Colombia, Gabon and Nigeria - have yet to make definitive statements about how they will vote.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Makati at U.N. headquarters to argue against rushing to act on the Palestinian application. U.S. officials said Clinton made similar points in meetings with her Colombian and Chinese counterparts.

U.S. officials said Clinton told Makati Washington wants to see both Israel and the Palestinians accept a plan to resume peace talks issued last week by the Middle East Quartet - the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia. That proposal calls for a preliminary meeting within a month, followed by a return to regular talks and progress on security and borders within 90 days. It envisions the completion of a peace deal no later than the end of 2012.

The Israelis and Palestinians remain divided on the issue of settlement construction in the West Bank, which derailed U.S.-mediated peace talks between the two sides last year when an Israeli moratorium on the building expired.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel will not renew a construction freeze in order to get Palestinians to agree to the Quartet plan for new talks.  He told the Jerusalem Post that Palestinian insistence on the settlement issue shows a lack of interest in negotiations.

Abbas told thousands of supporters in Ramallah Sunday that he would resume peace talks only if Israel stopped building settlements in occupied territory.  Palestinians oppose construction on land they want as part of a future state.

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