Defying US, Palestinians press forward with UN bid

Riad Al-maliki

In a direct challenge to the United States, the Palestinians have said they will ask the Security Council next week to accept them as a full member of the United Nations, even though Washington has promised to veto the measure.

The Palestinian assertion came on Thursday, as a senior US diplomatic team was in the region trying to avert an embarrassing showdown and relaunch peace talks. By pushing forward, the Palestinians risk putting President Barack Obama in the uneasy position of having to veto a measure supported by the vast majority of the international community.

Foreign Minister Riad Malki told foreign journalists the Palestinians were not looking for a fight. But he said the American stance puts the US in a 'confrontational position' with the rest of the world, and suggested American credibility could be at stake.

"I don't know what it means to the standing of the US in the United Nations and among the countries of the world", he said.

Even so, the Palestinians left the door open for compromise.

Malki said the Palestinians were still ready to listen to suggestions from American envoys. And in New York, his UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said a final decision on whether to pursue recognition in the Security Council, or seek a lesser, symbolic status in the General Assembly had not yet been made.

"The final decision will be taken in the next few days as to which path we will follow", Mansour said.

Asked about his boss's comments in Ramallah, he replied, "There are many words from many places, but what I'm telling you is that we are deliberating all these details and it is not yet finalised".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was to give a speech Friday in Ramallah and there was speculation he might address the issue then.

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