Abbas seeks UN statehood vote


The Palestinian Authority has launched a diplomatic initiative to secure a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and setting out a timetable for the establishment of a Palestinian state within a year.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is embarking on a five-country tour to drum up international support for the resolution.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Mr Abbas to meet him without preconditions but the invitation was rejected, the Palestinians demanding that Israel first freeze settlement activities and free Palestinian prisoners.

Ironically, this latest development comes as the level of Palestinian violence has dropped. In recent weeks, Israeli security officials have reported that, under Mr Abbas's direction, security co-ordination with the Palestinian Authority has improved. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) is afraid that Hamas could take over the West Bank," said one senior Israeli official. "That's why he will continue the security co-ordination. On the other hand, he wants to make our life more difficult on the diplomatic front."

Since Palestine is neither a full UN member-state nor a member of the Security Council, it will need one of the council's members to table the resolution on its behalf.

Israeli diplomats are concerned that the obliging country may be France, which has called for an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, in the past, warned that it would recognise a Palestinian state unilaterally if Israel did not agree to a set schedule. Since Laurent Fabius, the former foreign minister, retired, France has been less vocal on the issue but still remains involved.

There has been no clear indication whether or not the White House plans a move in this direction, or if President Barack Obama is resigned to ending his term without any breakthrough.

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