US secreatry of State Hillary Clinton
US secreatry of State Hillary Clinton arrives on September 1, at the Elysee palace in Paris. The differences with Washington over the UN bid are "still wide," a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday after talks with US envoys in the West Bank city of Ramallah. © Miguel Medina - AFP/File
US secreatry of State Hillary Clinton
AFP
Last updated: September 7, 2011

Palestinians: Differences with US on UN bid still wide

The differences with Washington over the UN bid are "still wide," a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday after talks with US envoys in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"The gap between the Palestinian and US positions is still wide after the meeting," presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

"There are efforts being made and an agreement to continue communication with the US administration and the (Middle East) Quartet envoy," he said.

His remarks came shortly after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held talks with Washington's Middle East envoy David Hale and Dennis Ross, senior adviser to US President Barack Obama.

Hale and Ross are seeking to head off the Palestinian bid for UN membership later this month.

Israel and Washington are firmly opposed to the Palestinian campaign, arguing that a Palestinian state can be established only through negotiations.

"We are determined to protect our right to go to the UN to seek membership for the state of Palestine," Abu Rudeina added.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, also speaking to AFP, said the meeting "revealed the scale of the differences between the positions -- There is still disagreement on going to the United Nations."

During the meeting, the two officials had reiterated Washington's opposition to the Palestinian plan and stressed the "intense efforts" being made by Quartet envoy Tony Blair to secure a statement from the diplomatic grouping urging both sides to resume peace talks.

The State Department is also understood to be seeking ways to restart peace talks in a last-minute bid to head off the campaign for UN membership.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Abbas late on Tuesday and urged him to "work hard with us to avoid a negative scenario in New York" later this month, a State Department spokeswoman said.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians ground to a halt shortly after they were relaunched in Washington in September 2010 over the issue of settlement construction.

The Palestinians say they will not resume talks while Israel builds in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank, and they say any future negotiations must be based on clear parameters.

But they have also stressed they do not view the UN bid as excluding the possibility of new talks, and that a resumption of negotiations would not dissuade them from pursuing membership of the world body.

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