UNITED NATIONS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the Palestinians on Tuesday to drop their bid for U.N. membership and opt instead for upgraded status in the world body, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas remained determined to pursue international recognition of an independent state.
Sarkozy will outline today his proposal for the Palestinians to seek approval in the General Assembly, where no member holds a veto, for a resolution that would make Palestine a nonmember observer state, raising its status from that of permanent observer, the Associated Press said it was told in confidence by diplomats.
Such a move would avoid a certain U.S. veto if the Palestinian membership bid were put to a vote in the Security Council.
With Abbas determined to seek membership rather than upgraded status, the Palestinian delegation relentlessly knocked on diplomatic doors at the U.N. trying to sell its case for international recognition.
The issue of the unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood, born of decades of frustration and failed negotiations with Israel, has consumed diplomats who are gathering for today's opening of the annual U.N. General Assembly ministerial meeting.
Abbas plans to submit the application Friday when he speaks to assembled world leaders.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will warn world leaders against prematurely establishing a Palestinian state when many issues in the conflict must still be resolved. He is scheduled to address the U.N. on Friday, shortly after Abbas speaks.
The White House said late Tuesday that President Barack Obama would meet with Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering today. Obama's diplomatic team has repeatedly said the United States, Israel's closest ally, would exercise its Security Council veto should the Palestinians win the necessary nine of 15 votes in the powerful body to adopt a resolution recommending U.N. membership for Palestine.