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Netanyahu calls for talks as Palestine prepares membership bid

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called to meet President of the Palestinian Authortity Mahmoud Abbas in New York this week for “direct negotiations”, as the Palestinians gear up to submit their statehood bid to the UN on Friday.

Abbas told Fox News that he is willing to meet with “any Israeli official any time... But there is no use if there is nothing tangible."

"I felt there is no way for negotiations because the American administration, including President Obama, exhausted their efforts to bring Netanyahu to the negotiating table.

They couldn't convince him to cease the settlement activities."

Peace talks between the two sides ground to a halt in September 2010 after the Israelis refused to bring settlement construction to a halt in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian frustration with the deadlock of the peace process and continued Israeli construction is cited as a factor as to why they are going to the UN.

Abbas also added that it would not sway the Palestinian bid for recognition from the UN.

Statehood, amongst other things, would open up the possibility of the Palestinians to pursue legal action against Israel in the ICC on issues such as the settlements, which have been deemed illegal under international law.

Speaking in a televised address last Friday, Abbas said,

"When I have finished delivering my speech (to the General Assembly), I will submit the request for membership to the Secretary General to be passed to the president of the Security Council.

It is our legitimate right to demand the full membership of the state of Palestine in the UN to put an end to a historical injustice by attaining liberty and independence, like the other peoples of the earth, in a Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967."

His speech came as Israel increased its military presence in the West Bank, preparing for Palestinian demonstrations as the statehood bid is launched this Friday.

See our earlier post: Palestinians seek UN membership (Sep 2011)