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Diplomatic Flurry Tries to Curtail Palestinian Recognition Bid

VOA News September 14, 2011

Diplomatic efforts continued on several fronts Wednesday in Israel and the Palestinian territories to convince Palestinian leaders to pull back from a plan to unilaterally seek recognition at the United Nations.

Israel warned against the Palestinian move as American diplomats led a shuttle diplomacy effort between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there will be "grave consequences" if Palestinians proceed with their effort. Lieberman did not specify what the consequences would be, but Israel has strongly opposed a unilateral bid for a Palestinian state.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent two top envoys back to the Middle East this week in hopes of reviving direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which she said is the only way to bring a lasting peace.

Envoy David Hale and senior White House aide Dennis Ross were meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and planned to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, possibly Thursday.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was set to meet Wednesday with Netanyahu after holding talks with Abbas.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Arab ministers in Cairo Tuesday that Ankara will support the Palestinian bid for statehood, calling it an "obligation," not an option.

Abbas is scheduled to outline his government's strategy for statehood on Friday.

Palestinians say they are seeking U.N. recognition after years of negotiations with Israel failed to deliver an independent state. Abbas backed out of U.S.-led talks last year after Israel resumed settlement construction on land that Palestinians want for a future state.

It remains unclear whether Abbas will seek full recognition from the Security Council as a member state of the U.N., or instead seek "non-member status," which only requires a simple majority from the 193-member General Assembly.

Palestinians currently hold observer status at the world body.

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

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