US envoys to visit Mideast before UN bid: Clinton | Pakistan Today

US envoys to visit Mideast before UN bid: Clinton

Two American envoys will Tuesday head back to the Middle East for talks with Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the latter’s push for statehood, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Palestinians are preparing to submit a formal request to become the 194th member of the United Nations, despite US and Israeli opposition, when the General Assembly begins its meetings on September 20.
“I’m sending David Hale and Dennis Ross back to the region in the next days to meet with both Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and President (Mahmud) Abbas,” said Clinton.
Hale, a special US envoy for the Middle East, and Ross, a special advisor to Clinton, were scheduled to depart Tuesday for two days, having already visited the region last week, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said later. The State Department said separately that Bill Burns, Clinton’s deputy, had arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah and other leaders on Gulf security, Iran, and the Palestinian issue.
Burns’s trip comes after a former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal, on Monday warned the US it ran the risk of becoming “toxic” in the Arab world if it opposed the Palestinians’ statehood bid. If Washington imposes its veto at the UN then “Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has,” he wrote in a commentary in The New York Times.
But Clinton once again expressed US opposition to the bid for UN recognition for a Palestinian state, via the UN Security Council or the General Assembly.
“The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York,” she said.
“We are redoubling our efforts not only with both sides but with a broad cross-section of the international community to create a sustainable platform for negotiations,” she said.
One approach could be a declaration by the Middle East Quartet – the United States, Russia, United Nations and the EU – that would offer a clear alternative to the UN route.
But the prospects for that appeared to weaken after Russia said Monday it would support the Palestinian bid at the UN.
Clinton spoke with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on Monday and was also due to speak to Abbas in the coming days.
Around 127 countries have recognized Palestine as an independent state and the Palestinians hope to garner more than 160 votes at the General Assembly for their cause.
Meanwhile, hard-line Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Wednesday there will be “harsh and grave consequences” if the Palestinians persist with their plan to seek UN membership as a state.
Speaking shortly before a scheduled meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Lieberman did not elaborate on the possible consequences.
“The moment has not yet come to give details of what will happen,” he said.
In the past he has called for Israel to sever all relations with the administration of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas should it press on with its UN bid.
“What I can say with the greatest confidence is that from the moment they pass a unilateral decision there will be harsh and grave consequences,” Lieberman told an agricultural conference in southern Israel.
“I hope that we shall not come to those harsh and grave consequences, and that common sense will prevail in all decisions taken in order to allow co-existence and progress with negotiations,” he added.
Lieberman has in the past accused the Palestinians of planning an “unprecedented bloodbath” after the UN move although they say they will hold purely peaceful rallies.

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