Neil MacFarquhar, Steven Lee Myers
The New York Times (Analysis)
September 19, 2011 - 12:00am

UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said Monday that he would present an application for Palestine to join the United Nations immediately after he addresses the General Assembly on Friday, as diplomats worked frenetically to try to limit the fallout from the application.

Mr. Abbas told Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general, that he was determined to move forward.

“I think it has dawned on everybody that they cannot convince us not to go,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian delegation. “Most people are discussing what is next.”

Envoys from the Quartet — the grouping of the United States, Russia, Europe and the United Nations established in 2002 to help guide the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — were trying to overcome substantial recent differences to present a united draft statement that might lead quickly to direct negotiations between the two parties.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was engaged in “extremely intensive ongoing diplomacy” to avert a confrontation by resuming negotiations for a two-state solution, regardless of what happens on Friday.

“We continue to believe and are pressing the point that the only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations,” said Mrs. Clinton, who met with a series of her counterparts on Monday. “No matter what does or doesn’t happen this week, it will not produce the kind of result that everyone is hoping for.”

The United States has vowed to veto any resolution that is presented to the United Nations Security Council. The barrage of bilateral talks was also linked to the Council, because it remains unclear whether the Palestinians can muster the nine votes on the Security Council needed to assure passage of a resolution. It could also take months before a resolution comes to a vote.

Some diplomats are hoping that if the Quartet can present a statement at the same time that Mr. Abbas submits his application, it might shift the focus to the stalled peace talks. Many are concerned that any momentum toward a Quartet agreement will dissipate once the Palestinians’ application is presented.

The Quartet has been stalled for months over wording on some vital issues, and there was no sign of a breakthrough on Monday. Negotiators hope that fears about a confrontation, especially renewed violence in the occupied territories, might serve to forge a sudden Quartet consensus.

Danny Danon, a Likud member of the Israeli Parliament, said outside the United Nations that if the Palestinians make their application, he would issue a bill to annex all West Bank settlements.

Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are directly involved in the Quartet talks, but any agreement by the international community defining the parameters of the negotiations would have to be acceptable to both.

Besides differences within the Quartet, Europe itself has had trouble forging a common approach. When Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, was asked early Monday what the European strategy was on a Quartet statement, he said Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East, and Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, had yet to inform him.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017