News / Middle East

    UN Security Council to Discuss Palestinian Bid

    The U.N. Security Council is set to discuss the Palestinian bid for statehood Monday, as Israeli leaders continue to call for a return to peace talks.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for full recognition of a Palestinian state Friday, and received a hero's welcome Sunday as he returned to the West Bank.

    He told thousands of supporters in Ramallah they are part of a "Palestinian Spring," and that he would resume peace talks only if Israel stopped building settlements in occupied territory.

    U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled a year ago after an Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlement construction expired. Palestinians oppose construction on land they want as part of a future state.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday the U.N. bid is wrong and should not succeed because Palestinians want a state without first committing to security guarantees for Israel. He repeated his call for the Palestinians to resume immediate peace talks without preconditions.

    A top Palestinian aide said Israel has placed unacceptable preconditions on peace negotiations.  Hanan Ashrawi said Israel "wants to annex Jerusalem" and "remove [Palestinian] refugees from the agenda."  She said Israel "wants everything, and then says, 'Let's talk.'"

    The Middle East Quartet - the U.S., U.N., Europen Union and Russia - has called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume pace talks within a month and reach an agreement by next year.

    Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday he favors the Quartet plan and called on Palestinians not to look for excuses to stay away from the negotiating table.

    Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki has said the new initiative calling for the resumption of peace talks is not sufficient because it does not call for an Israeli settlement construction freeze. Malki said the Quartet's plan also fails to require an Israeli withdrawal to the borders in place before Israel took control of the Palestinian territories in 1967.

    U.S. President Barack Obama said recently that Washington would use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block any resolution recognizing the Palestinians. In his U.N. address, Obama said the only solution is direct talks between the two sides.


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