Bloomberg News

U.S. Envoys Return to Middle East as UN Vote on Palestine Nears

September 06, 2011

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. has sent two envoys to the Middle East to try to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks and ward off looming United Nations votes to recognize the Palestinian territories as a state.

David Hale, President Barack Obama’s special envoy on Middle East peace efforts, and White House adviser Dennis Ross, were in Israel today to talk with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak about restarting talks “and avoiding bad scenarios at the end of the month in New York,” said Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman.

Hale planned to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tomorrow, she said.

About 140 countries are likely to support a Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations General Assembly later this month, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said Sept. 4 on Palestinian television.

White House press secretary Jay Carney reiterated today the administration’s position that the Palestinians will not achieve statehood through a UN resolution and that “peace has to be negotiated directly” with Israel.

“This is not the right course of action,” Carney said of a UN effort, calling it “not productive.”

Nuland said the U.S. has been lobbying countries on the issue, talking to “a much broader selection of countries than we usually talk to about Middle East peace because many of them, who don’t usually get confronted with decisions like this, could be confronted with a decision in the General Assembly.”

The Palestinian approach “is the wrong way to go"” and could make getting back to the negotiating table harder, she said.

“Our goal is to have these parties committed to coming back to the table before we get to the” UN General Assembly.

--With assistance from Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem and Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv. Editors: Terry Atlas, Steven Komarow

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at -0- Sep/06/2011 21:14 GMT

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