Abbas talking with US, EU reps ahead of UN bid

Reuters , Tuesday 6 Sep 2011

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is holding talks with US and European envoys ahead of the Palestinian UN membership bid, a senior Palestinian official said

Middle East quartet members Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-moon, Sergey Lavrov, Tony Blair and Lady Ashton
Middle East quartet members Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-moon, Sergey Lavrov, Tony Blair and Lady Ashton at talks in Moscow.(AP file photo)

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said President Mahmud Abbas would hold talks on Wednesday with US envoy David Hale, and had pledged to coordinate with the EU "up to the last minute" on the UN bid plans.

Abed Rabbo said Hale was coming to Ramallah for talks to "save what could be saved," an apparent reference to Washington's ongoing attempts to convince the Palestinians to scrap their UN bid in exchange for a new round of peace talks.

He said he expected Hale to "threaten and warn of a financial boycott and measures against the PLO representation at the United Nations."

Washington has made it clear that it is opposed to the Palestinian plan to seek UN membership this September, and is reportedly seeking to draft a proposal for peace talks that will be acceptable to Israel, as well as Russia, the European Union and the UN -- members of the international peacemaking Quartet.

The EU remains divided on the bid, but the Palestinians have pledged to keep the group abreast of their plans, Abed Rabbo said.

"We have given the EU a commitment to coordinate with them up to the last minute on the presentation of the membership resolution," he said.

The Palestinians have reportedly pledged to give a copy of their draft resolution to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton before they submit it later this month.

Abbas has also been meeting with Quartet envoy Tony Blair, who is also reportedly seeking a framework that would allow the resumption of direct negotiations, which have been on hold for almost a year.

The talks ground to a halt shortly after they were relaunched in Washington last September over the issue of settlement construction.

The Palestinians say they will not resume talks while Israel builds on land in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and they say any future negotiations must be based on clear parameters.

But they have also stressed that they do not view the UN bid as excluding the possibility of new talks, and that a resumption of negotiations would not dissuade them from pursuing membership at the international organisation.

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