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Palestinians to Pursue UN Recognition of Statehood

VOA News May 25, 2011

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

Mr. Abbas said Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did nothing to improve the prospects for peace talks in a speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, outlining Israeli parameters for future negotiations.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday it would be a "mistake" for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route instead of talking with the Israelis. He was speaking at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

Mr. Obama said he is confident that both sides can agree to his goal of a secure Jewish state of Israel and a sovereign state of Palestine, but warned that it will require what he called "wrenching compromise" from both sides.

In a key policy speech last week, Mr. 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.

At the news conference, Mr. Cameron endorsed Mr. Obama's Mideast peace parameters and said "neither side has an excuse to stand aside from talks."

Mr. Netanyahu told the U.S. Congress on Tuesday that Israel will not withdraw to what he called its indefensible pre-1967 borders.

The leader of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah criticized both the U.S. and the Israeli initiatives Wednesday, accusing Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu of dealing a "mortal blow" to peace.

Nasrallah was speaking in a televised address marking 11 years since the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

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

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