The United States called on European governments to oppose the Palestinian Authority's bid to upgrade its status to "non-member state" at the UN, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper, citing a US memorandum.

The Guardian reported that the US communique described Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's UN move as "extremely counterproductive," and warned of "significant negative consequences" for the PA, including financial sanctions.

The memorandum purportedly also reiterated Washington's long-standing policy that Palestinian statehood "can only be achieved via direct negotiations with the Israelis," and thus urged EU governments "to support efforts" to block the bid.

The Guardian claimed that the message was communicated by US diplomats to representatives of European governments during last week's UN General Assembly.

The US state department declined to comment on the matter.

The report followed Monday's announcement by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat that the PA had started consultations with Arab countries over the phrasing of a request for UN non-member state status.

Alluding to US opposition to the move, Erekat insisted that the unilateral UN strategy would not harm the peace process, but rather would compliment it, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

“[Israel has] always tried and is still trying to change the rules of the peace process and limit the PA’s role to security and economic tasks only,” Ma’an quoted Erekat as saying.

Erekat told China’s Xinhua state news agency via telephone that US President Barack Obama did not ask the Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel, hinting that the Palestinian were advancing their cause at the UN while the US remains uninterested in backing talks.

“The United States stance toward the resumption of peace negotiations with Israel hasn’t changed,” Erekat said. “The United States wants the unconditioned resumption of the talks.”

The Palestinians have continued to insist upon a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a precondition to resuming talks. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has declared his willingness to resume the diplomatic process immediately without preconditions.

One Israeli government official said that if the PA follows through with its threat to unilaterally ask for statehood recognition in the UN General Assembly it would be a “very negative development that would not in any way further the real establishment of a Palestinian state.” Such a state, the official said, could only be achieved through negotiations with Israel.

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