Obama Fails to Persuade Palestinians to Abandon Quest for U.N. Membership


President Barack Obama failed Wednesday to talk Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas out of seeking full U.N. membership, setting the stage for a U.S. veto that could help shore up Obama’s sagging domestic political standing but risk injecting the first serious anti-U.S. unrest into the turmoil wracking the Middle East.

Plunging into frenzied, high-level diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis, Obama spent about an hour Wednesday evening closeted with Abbas in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in what U.S. officials said was an attempt to persuade Abbas to return to peace talks with Israel that broke down last year.
But Abbas left the session still determined to submit a request on Friday for a U.N. Security Council resolution granting full U.N. membership to an independent Palestinian state. Obama has repeatedly vowed to block the move using the veto the United States controls as one of five permanent council members.
Abbas “has been very clear about what his intent is, which is to go to the Security Council,” Ben Rhodes, a White House National Security Council spokesman, told reporters after the Obama-Abbas meeting, which he called “very candid and direct.”
Rhodes said that Obama told Abbas that the U.S “would have to oppose any action at the U.N. Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing.”
Husam Zomlot, a member of Abbas’ delegation, told McClatchy that the Palestinian request would go forward. “We expect a speedy process of our application,” he said.
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SOURCE: McClatchy DC
Lesley Clark and Jonathan S. Landay

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