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Palestinians won’t drop statehood bid

Associated Press / September 7, 2011

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RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Palestinians yesterday said they would not give in to American pressure to drop their bid for statehood at the United Nations, taking a tough position ahead of a meeting with a senior US delegation.

Two senior White House envoys, David Hale and Dennis Ross, arrived in the region yesterday for talks with Israel and Palestinian officials. The United States has been trying to persuade the Palestinians to drop their plan to ask the UN this month to approve their independence and instead resume peace talks with Israel.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said there was little the Americans could do to change the Palestinians’ plans.

“We are going to the United Nations, regardless of objections or pressure,’’ he said. Abbas is expected to meet with Hale today.

Ross, who is viewed by the Palestinians as pro-Israel, was not scheduled to attend the meeting.

The comments signaled more frustration for President Obama, who has made little progress in nurturing peace talks despite pledges to make Mideast diplomacy a priority.

The Palestinians say they are turning to the UN after years of sporadic, and inconclusive, peace talks with Israel.

Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem - areas claimed by the Palestinians - in the 1967 Mideast war. Both Israel and the United States oppose the UN initiative, saying peace can be reached only through negotiations. Israel has called for a resumption of talks without preconditions.

The American team was meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday.

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