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Majed Abdulfattah (L), Basem al Baz (C) and Ahmad Dari (R) carry a symbolic Palestinian seat to a meeting with United Nations General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser September 15, 2011 at UN headquarters in New York ahead of preparations to request UN membership for Palestine.
When world leaders descend on New York City for the annual General Assembly next week, they could be asked to consider a new member. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to seek recognition for a Palestinian state by the United Nations. The move has caused a whirlwind of diplomatic activity for the last days, weeks and months. The United States has tried to use its leverage to dissuade the Palestinian initiative -- including a promise to veto any application for statehood made to the Security Council. That would leave Palestinians with the option of pursuing status as a nonmember observer state (Abbas very likely has the required votes from UN members to support the move). Former President Jimmy Carter called the proposal a "real step forward." Whereas, the Obama administration has said resuming peace talks is the only way forward. It sent two more high-level envoys to the region yesterday to negotiate with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a last-ditch effort to stop the UN bid. Why is the Palestinian leadership pursuing this path? What could the consequences be for all the stakeholders? How could it impact the current impasse in negotiations? Who supports the move and who is opposed?
Omar Dajani, Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific; Former Legal Advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team in talks with Israel (1999-2001)
David Siegel, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles