Israel offers talks with Palestinians over UN bid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - 15 September 2011 Mr Netanyahu said Mr Abbas should not "waste time on unilateral moves"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to hold direct talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly.

Mr Abbas earlier said he was willing to meet Mr Netanyahu but was determined to push ahead with a bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

The US and Israel oppose the bid and there has been intense diplomacy to avert a crisis over the move.

Peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel broke down a year ago.

The Palestinians are seeking international recognition of their state based on the borders that existed in 1967. This would give the Palestinians the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Israel and the US say a Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiation, but the Palestinian leadership says this approach has got them nowhere.

Mr Abbas has said he will launch the process on Friday, when he submits a written request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after his address to the General Assembly.

If approved by Mr Ban, the Security Council then examines the request and votes on it. In order to pass, the request must get the votes of nine out of 15 council members, with no vetoes from the permanent members. The US has said it will use its veto.

In this case, Mr Abbas could ask for a vote of the General Assembly for enhanced observer status.

Symbolic value

Mr Netanyahu called on Mr Abbas - the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) - to begin negotiations with Israel instead of "wasting time on unilateral moves".

He said: "I call on the PA chair to open direct negotiations in New York, that will continue in Jerusalem and Ramallah."

Analysts say the call is an attempt to stop Mr Abbas from launching his UN membership request.

Palestinian UN Statehood Bid

  • Palestinians currently have permanent observer entity status at the UN
  • They are represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)
  • Officials now want an upgrade so a state of Palestine has full member status at the UN
  • They seek recognition on 1967 borders - in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza
  • Enhanced observer member status could be an interim option

While UN recognition would have largely symbolic value, the Palestinians argue that it would strengthen their hands in peace talks with Israel, especially on the final status issues that divide them.

These are the precise location of the border, the status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, water, and security.

Speaking on his way to New York, Mr Abbas said he was under "tremendous pressure" to drop his bid.

Diplomats have been meeting in New York after days of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East to look for a compromise.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there was still time to reach one. But she said the "only way to a two-state solution... is through negotiations.

"No matter what does or doesn't happen this week, it will not produce the kind of result that everyone is hoping for," she said.

Representatives from the European Union, the UN, the US and Russia - the Quartet of Middle East mediators - are reported to be working on a framework for a return to talks that would forestall Mr Abbas' statehood bid.

The Jerusalem Post said this would have Israel agreeing "with reservations" to enter talks on the basis of the 1967 borders with mutual land swaps while the Palestinians would agree to the mention of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Israeli isolation

A BBC/GlobeScan poll suggests that in 19 countries across the world, more people back UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state than oppose it.

The Palestinian move at the UN comes as Israel is increasingly isolated in the Middle East.

Relations with Egypt, Turkey and Jordan have soured in recent months.

Mrs Clinton met Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in New York and made it clear to him that this was not the time for more tension and volatility in the region.

Turkey and Israel, once close partners, have fallen out since Israeli security forces raided a Turkish aid flotilla trying to reach Gaza last year, killing nine Turkish citizens.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    If the Palestinians left Gaza and the west bank and went to Jordan, a sparsely populated Palestinian country, the people would immediately have better lives.

    If the states of the world invested in this, instead of Israel bashing, the individual people involved would be able to live in peace and comfort in their own homes.

    Why not?


  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    This issue again...not sure there is a permanent solution to this. As soon as you get a two state solution with Jews on one side and Palestinians on the other, all you have is two countries that are likely to go to war. But if we could get there at least it is a start. The bigger picture needs to be kept in mind at all times though, I am sick of listening to narrowminded people regarding this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    In 1948 the UN partitioned Palestine to create the modern state of Israel and a Palestinian state, it's time to make it a reality.

    That is correct and the Arabs rejected it .
    Nothing has changed and they still want Israel to disappear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.


    Nothing is "obvious" in all this. More Palestinians will be moved on. More settlers will arrive. The world will get angrier and angrier but there won't be any relenting from Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    1. Be ready to be flexible. Some of the larger settlements are to big to get rid of. It would be political suicide for any Israeli politician. Swap land were possible. When lines have been redrawn following fair swaps, Isreal need to remove the all the settlements they class as illigal.
    2. Then tear down wall that run through Palestinian land, not the ones along the border though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    If the palestinians dont like the deadlocked netanyahu government, then they should consider the barak leftwing option. Lets look at the evidence. Went to sharm, promised a lot, steered the Israeli public to it, despite suicide bombing campaigns&vitriol from the neighbouring govts, pulled out of Lebanon etc. Arafat said "not good enough" &then said "intifada". What a wonderful world we live in!

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The situation is a sign of the times. Israel will grow Suffering & injustice will continue until the only one who can sort all of this out returns. The Messiah. He is real. He does live. He has a plan. There will be increased political & military tensions until Israel is utterly isolated. The end is the second coming of Jesus Christ. It's for all to be as human/compassionate as possible until then

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Suppose that when Washington wanted an independent American state the British tried to fob him of with decades of negotiations and, when that failed, he could try some more direct negotiations and should not waste time on unilateral moves. Would he be an American hero for following such a path? Abbas must not back down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Man really Loves to stall things doesn't he, More Peace talks, More illegal settlements in the west Bank and more of a future Palestine being eroded by Israel.

    If the Israelis truly wanted Peace they would be supporting this as it would mean both sides would have to follow UN laws and cant attack civilians on both sides of the fence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Pam Crossland

    naive comment

    there are movements here that are not going to be resolved in the UN

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    15. SudburySaturdayNight

    The land is not "stolen". We have stewardships wherever we live, not an indefinite and unchanging right.

    The man who lives in the sky (sometimes) talks to all of His children (including you). If you will listen. First of course you'd have to talk to Him (that's called prayer).

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The sight of Netanyahu getting 35 standing ovations from the US Congress while he stated Likud's position on the status of any Palestinian State should make it clear to anyone that the US's claim to be an impartial arbiter on the Israel/Palestine issue is dead .
    In 1948 the UN partitioned Palestine to create the modern state of Israel and a Palestinian state, it's time to make it a reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    I'm just wondering, the day that Israel went to the UN back in 1948 to apply for statehood, why did the USA not call it a unilateral move and ask for negotiations between both parties??? Shame on you America!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Why don't the Gaza and west bank Palestinians go to Jordan, which is already the region's Palestinian state?

    Seems a more sensible answer to me as it gives them statehood, comfort and peace - and it could all happen in days!

    In return for this answer providing an enduring peace, I'm sure Israel could concede parts of the west bank to Jordan, as well as assisting the necessary integration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    My understanding is that Abbas is asking for nothing more that the British government and EU think that the Palestinians are entiled to (West Bank, EJ and Gaza). Why do the UK and EU then not speak up in support of the Palestinians? They are just completely spineless in face of America.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Israel insists on negotiations yet is unwilling to actually negotiate on most of the issues. There is a diplomatic struggle to get the Pals to drop this bid when we all no they are going to go through with it, yet nobody seems to be trying to dissuade Israel from punitive actions. They have threaened al sorts of negative measures and are not confronted about this typical inflammatory reaction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Israel needs to look in the mirror and ask itself whether its actions over the last 10 years in particular are what their God would have wanted. Most people would say no. Very sad their hardliners now run the show.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    It's the ordinary Israelies/Palestinians that I feel for. It's in no-one's interest(apart aforementioned) for this to be solved. Israel wouldn't get their multi-billion annual subsidy from the US, Arab governments would have no convienent scapegoat to blame for their problems or to focus attention away from their own activities, and hardline Islamists would lose their best recruiting tool.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    8. Sebastian

    The obvious is the Isrs get 1967 borders in exchange for the Isrs agreeing to Palestine being allowed to exist. Israel therefore renouncing the genuinely evil demand for "no right of return". It is outrageous they are not seeking 1967 borders without agreeing to live in peace with a Palestinian state and equally outrageous that people ignorant of the issues want to let them.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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