Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Palestinians hope to gain leverage from U.N. bid

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The expected U.N. vote today to recognize a state of Palestine will be far more than symbolic — it could give the Palestinians leverage in border talks with Israel and open the way for possible war crimes charges against the Jewish state.

The Palestinians want the 193-member General Assembly to accept "Palestine," on the lands Israel occupied in 1967, as a nonmember observer state. They anticipate broad support.

The United States and Israel have tried to block the quest for U.N. recognition of Palestine, saying it's an attempt to bypass Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that broke down four years ago.

The U.S. deputy secretary of state, William Burns, met with Abbas in New York on Wednesday, asking Abbas again to drop the idea and promising that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator in 2013, Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said. Abbas told Burns it was too late.

Israel, meanwhile, appeared to back away from threats of drastic measures if the Palestinians get U.N. approval, with officials suggesting the government would take steps only if the Palestinians use their new status to act against Israel.

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