US in Mideast diplomatic push before UN meeting

WASHINGTON - Senior US officials are meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week and lobbying a growing number of foreign countries to avert a diplomatic crisis over the Palestinians' UN membership later this month, the State Department said on Tuesday.
The flurry of activity comes as President Barack Obama's administration scrambles to head off a Palestinian plan to seek full membership during the UN General Assembly session that begins on Sept. 19, despite US and Israeli objections.Dennis Ross, a senior White House official, and David Hale, the US Mideast peace envoy, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday. Hale will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
US officials fear the Palestinians move at the United Nations could further complicate Washington's flagging effort to resume direct peace negotiations which broke down last year with the expiry of a 10-month partial Israeli moratorium on settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
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