UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinians are certain to win U.N. recognition as a state Thursday in a General Assembly vote that Israel and the United States warn could delay hopes of achieving an independent Palestinian homeland through peace talks with Israel.
The United States, Israel's closest ally, mounted an aggressive campaign to head off the General Assembly vote, which the Palestinians view as a historic step in their quest for global recognition.
With most of the 193 General Assembly member states sympathetic to the Palestinians, the vote is certain to succeed. Several key countries, including France, have recently announced they would support the move to elevate the Palestinians from the status of U.N. observer to nonmember observer state. However, a country's vote in favor of the status change does not automatically imply its individual recognition of a Palestine state, something that must be done bilaterally.
The Palestinians say they need U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the lands Israel captured in 1967, to be able to resume negotiations with Israel. The non-member observer state status could also open the way for possible war crimes charges against the Jewish state at the International Criminal Court.
In a last-ditch move Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns made a personal appeal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promising that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator in 2013 if Abbas abandoned the effort to seek statehood. But the Palestinian leader refused, said Abbas aide Saeb Erekat.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday the recognition of an independent state of Palestine in the U.N. General Assembly will not advance the Palestinians' quest for a homeland. He said the Palestinians will not win a state until they recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, declare an end to their conflict with the Jewish state and agree to security arrangements that protect Israel.