Netanyahu speaks press conference 311.
(photo credit: Ben Spier)
weeks of deliberation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced
Thursday that he would go to a United Nations General Assembly meeting
next week to discuss the Palestinian statehood bid. The prime minister also called on Palestinian Authority
Mahmoud Abbas not to bring the matter to the UN, but rather to
return to peace negotiations with Israel.
Speaking at a press conference with visiting Czech Prime Minister
Nečas, Netanyahu said he will "speak the truth to those who want to hear
it" at the UN General Assembly.
UN’s Serry: Only diplomacy can secure Palestinian
High-level talks continue to avert ‘train wreck’ at
said that the General Assembly is not "the place where Israel generally
gets a reasonable hearing," but it was nonetheless important to present
For weeks there was internal
debate inside the Prime Minister's Office whether he should go, or
whether Israel should be represented
by President Shimon Peres.
government official said only this week that the decision would be
based on whether Netanyahu felt he could have any impact on the European
countries whose position on the matter has yet to be decided.
asked how his
country planned to vote on the statehood bid, Czech Prime Minister
Petr Nečas said, "I
would like to emphasis that at this moment I am
unfamiliar with the format and context of the request."
press conference came after Netanyahu held
late-night meetings Wednesday
with US envoys Dennis Ross and David Hale, and with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, in an effort
to head off what one diplomatic official termed a “diplomatic train
wreck” at the UN.
EU diplomats said on Thursday said that the
European Union hopes to persuade Palestinian leaders to drop their
plans for full UN membership in return for a nuanced upgrading of their
UN observer status.
Diplomats said Ashton was trying to
negotiate a package that could include a statement by the Quartet of
Middle East negotiators laying out guidelines for future talks between
the Israelis and Palestinians.
Diplomats in Brussels said Ashton's
proposal included a text that would not rule out full UN membership for a
Palestinian state in the future, but focuses for now on a lesser
upgrade of their status coupled with a specific mention of talks.
The last-ditch efforts to avoid the PA's United Nation's bid came as Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said on Thursday
said on Thursday
that Abbas would "present the official request for the state of
Palestine to be granted full membership” to UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon on Septemebr 23 in New York.
Malki was contradicted later on Thursday by PA envoy to the United
Nations, Riyad Mansour, who told reporters the Palestinians were still
"fine-tuning our options" on what to do next week in regards to the PA's
bid for UN recognition.
"The final decision will be taken in the next few days as to which path
we would follow, whether it is through the Security Council for full
membership or whether through the General Assembly" for a lesser upgrade
of status, he said.
An aide to Netanyahu said the prime minister would
address the forum on September 23 and that efforts were under way to
try to arrange meetings with US President Barack Obama and
Secretary of State Hillary
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Thursday expressed
doubt as to the effectiveness of Netanyahu's decision to speak at the
"I am fine with him going, but he will not
affect any real change," Livni stated in an interview with Israel Radio.
"To change things you must act and not just give a speech," she added,
reiterating her position that the government must act to renew
negotiations with the Palestinians and the failure to do so has led to
the Palestinian UN bid.
Jpost.com staff, Ben Spier, Felice Friedson and Reuters contributed to this