Middle East

UK urges US 'decisive' lead on Mid-East

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Media captionWilliam Hague: "It is time for a huge effort on the Middle East peace process"

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for a "decisive lead" from the United States in seeking a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Some good" could come out of the Gaza crisis, he argued, if it was possible to open access in and out of Gaza and halt weapons smuggling into the area.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to ask the UN to back a bid for non-member observer state.

Israel opposes the plan which it says breaches the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Mr Abbas's departure for the UN on Monday comes days after the end of hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants ruling the Gaza Strip.

The eight days of violence claimed the lives of at least 158 people in Gaza and six in Israel.

Mr Abbas's adviser Sabri Saidam has told the BBC that "he came out of the Gaza war definitely more adamant to go to the United Nations".

'Fully confident'

The Palestinian leader's attempt to secure full UN membership foundered last year when it reached the UN Security Council - where the US has a veto - and the revived bid needs approval from the General Assembly if it is to go through.

The latest proposal would have UN recognition for a state of Palestine made up of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Mr Abbas has reportedly come under pressure from Western nations including the US to scrap the bid.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon issued a warning on Saturday that Israel would look to negotiate with other Palestinian groups.

But the Palestinian leader told a crowd on Sunday he was "fully confident" ahead of the bid, planned for 29 November. He had earlier said he was certain of international support.

Non-member observer status would give the Palestinians access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled two years ago over the issue of Israeli settlements on occupied land the Palestinians want as part of a future state.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Mar programme, the UK foreign secretary called on the US to show "necessary leadership" in the coming months because of its "crucial leverage with Israel", he said.

"It is time for a huge effort on the Middle East peace process," he said.

"We're coming to the final chance, maybe, for a two-state solution in the Israeli Palestinian conflict to be successfully resolved."