Obama attempts to avoid UN confrontation over Palestinian vote

By Jennifer Lipman, September 21, 2011
President Obama

President Obama

President Barack Obama is set to meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders today in a last-ditch effort to avoid a confrontation at Friday's UN session.

The Palestinian Authority remains committed - at least in its public statements – to forcing a UN vote on a unilateral statehood bid.

With the US prepared to veto at the Security Council, officials from all areas are searching for ways around the deadlock.

President Obama will discuss the issues with Mahmoud Abbas today, as well as holding a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He will also address the UN General Assembly today in a speech which will cover the Arab Spring and the issues facing the Middle East.

During his time with Mr Abbas the president is expected to urge the Palestinian leader not to try for an actual vote but to allow time for international negotiators to draft a statement reviving the peace process.

"The president will be able to say very directly why we believe that action at the United Nations is not the way to achieve a Palestinian state," said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

He added that President Obama had "made it clear that we do not believe that that will lead to a Palestinian state, that we oppose such efforts".

Last updated: 10:36am, September 21 2011