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Palestinians to Press UN for Statehood

VOA News May 25, 2011

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeated his plan to seek U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood if there is no progress in peace talks with Israel by September.

Abbas spoke Wednesday in Ramallah, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. lawmakers he opposed such a move.

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed opposition to the idea on Wednesday, calling it a "mistake" for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route instead of talking with the Israelis.

Speaking in London alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama said he is confident that a two-state solution to the conflict can be achieved, but said it will require "wrenching compromise" from both sides.

In a key policy speech last week, Obama called for basing the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, with mutually agreed land swaps.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan on June 7, 1967, during the War.

Cameron endorsed Obama's proposal on Wednesday, and said neither side has an excuse to stand aside from talks.

Netanyahu has strongly rejected the call for returning to the pre-1967 borders. In a speech Tuesday to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, Netanyahu said Jerusalem would never be divided and that Israel would not negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes the militant group Hamas.

Obama has said Israel must "make the hard choices" necessary to reach a peace agreement.

U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled last September. Palestinians have been seeking a future state with East Jerusalem as the capital.

Reuters news agency quotes Abbas as describing Netanyahu's speech as "nothing we can build on."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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