US envoys to meet Abbas, PM in effort to halt UN bid

Aide to PA president says Palestinians "open-minded to any proposal," but doubtful last-ditch effort by Hale, Ross will prevent statehood plan.

Hale and Abbas 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hale and Abbas 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Senior US envoys visiting the Middle East this week in an attempt to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and avert a Palestinian bid for UN membership will meet with both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as part of their efforts, Washington announced on Tuesday.
The mission by US Middle East envoy David Hale and senior White House aide Dennis Ross appears to be a last-ditch push to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking to upgrade their UN status this month.
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"The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and in Ramallah, not in New York," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters on Tuesday.
"Our hope is that we get the parties back into a frame of mind and a process where they will actually begin negotiating again," she added, a goal that critics, analysts and even an administration ally suggested will be hard to achieve.
US Senator John Kerry, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who is close to the administration, said there was little chance of stopping the Palestinian bid.
"I think the only thing that might change the dynamic now is a major proposal by Israel on the table with respect to the peace process," Kerry told reporters.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, met about 20 Democratic members of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to discuss "mutual efforts" to deter the Palestinians from their UN effort, a spokeswoman for House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said.
A senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Reuters the plan was still to seek full UN membership for a Palestinian state despite the new US mission.
Earlier, the aide, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said the Palestinian leadership would listen to any proposals but suggested the current US push had come too late.
"We are open-minded to any proposal ... but this is not a step to really stop us from going to the United Nations," he said. "If the whole idea of a proposal is to engage peacefully then you don't really bring it in the last five minutes."
Qatar's envoy to the UN, serving as president of the upcoming General Assembly, said Tuesday that no official request to recognize a Palestinian state has yet been received by the world body, Army radio reported.
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser emphasized that the exact form the request request will take was still being discussed.
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