Late rush to stop Abbas bid at UN

By Anshel Pfeffer and Martin Bright, September 15, 2011
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The UN headquarters in New York

The UN headquarters in New York

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to deliver a speech today in which he is expected to announce the Palestinian Authority's finalintentions regarding the UN General Assembly at the end of the month.

Mr Abbas has been under intense diplomatic pressure from all sides in recent days over his decision.

Despite reports that the Palestinians had already decided to ask the UN to vote in favour of recognising an independent state, the Qatari envoy to the UN, Nassir Abdulaziz, who is also the president of this year's General Assembly, said on Wednesday that he had yet to receive an official request on behalf of the Palestinians and that, as far as he knew, they were still undecided.

While most Israeli diplomats had already given up on the issue, Quartet envoy Tony Blair, EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton and senior American diplomats Denis Ross and David Hale were shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah this week to try to work out a last-minute compromise.

The solution currently being proposed by the Obama administration contains a framework for a return to negotiations under American auspices, assurances to Mr Abbas that the US will support a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and support for a declaration at the UN along these lines, but not a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

Mr Abbas also attended a meeting of the Arab League leaders in Cairo this week where he was urged by many of the delegates, especially by Turkish President Reccep Tayyep Erdogan, to seek UN recognition.

Israel has yet to deliver an official response to the US proposal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet decided whether or not he will go to the General Assembly in New York.

Meanwhile, an interview with the Palestinian's representative to the US, Maen Areikat, in which he said that Jews would not be allowed to live within the borders of a future Palestinian state has created a stir and accusations of antisemitism, but no official Israeli response.

The UK government has yet to decide its position on the vote. However, it is concerned about potential violence, and British officials are working to craft a compromise statement to present to both sides.

Last updated: 1:42pm, September 15 2011