In a last-ditch effort to persuade the Palestinian leaders to drop their statehood bid at the United Nations in late September, the US sent two senior envoys to the Middle East to help revive long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
The US Middle East envoy David Hale and senior White House aide Dennis Ross arrived in Israel Wednesday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Israeli radio reported.
Hale and Ross will then move to Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissuade him from going ahead with his plan to seek UN recognition of the Palestinian State and full membership for the new state in the UN organization. Palestinians are preparing to submit a formal request to become the 194th member of the United Nations.
Israel is vehemently opposed to such a move and the United States has said it will veto it in the U.N. Security Council. However, the Palestinians have suggested that instead of going to the Security Council, they may seek a vote on recognition in the General Assembly, where the U.S. cannot veto it and it is likely to pass.
Some 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, hardline Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned on Wednesday there would be “harsh and grave consequences” if the Palestinians persist with their plan to seek UN membership as a state.
“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 shortly before a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
“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 coexistence and progress with negotiations,” he added.
Liberman refused to elaborate on the possible consequences.
“The moment has not yet come to give details of what will happen.”