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Palestinians Vow to Pursue Statehood at UN

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 15, 2011.

Palestinians vowed Thursday to seek full membership at the United Nations next week, despite Israeli and U.S. objections, but left open the possibility of a resumption of Mideast peace talks.

Palestinians say their president, Mahmoud Abbas, will address the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, and also will ask the Security Council to recognize Palestine as an independent state - a necessary condition for full U.N. membership. The Obama administration has promised to veto such a resolution.

In announcing their position Thursday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said he was not closing the door on the possible resumption of peace talks.

“We have decided to submit our application for full [U.N.] membership," said al-Maliki. "At the same time, we have said that, until then, we are open to any kind [of] suggestions, ideas that could really come from any side for the renewal of negotiations.”

American envoy David Hale and senior White House aide Dennis Ross have been shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to revive peace talks and forestall the bid for U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood. Both the U.S. and Israel say unilateral steps are counterproductive and will not achieve peace.

Israel has rejected the key Palestinian demand for resuming talks: a halt to settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he, too, will address the U.N. General Assembly next week.

“I’m going to the U.N. and President Abbas is going to the U.N.; we could spare the trip [to New York] and sit down and negotiate," said Netanyahu. "Direct negotiations. That is the simplest way to begin the negotiations for peace, and the only way you’re going to complete the negotiations for peace is by starting.”

The U.S. has warned the Palestinians that it will use its veto if they take their statehood bid to the U.N. Security Council. In the event of a veto, the Palestinian side might seek a symbolic vote of support from the General Assembly, where they enjoy strong support.

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