French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday proposed the United Nations give the Palestinians status as an observer state while setting out a roadmap for peace within one year.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Sarkozy warned that a UN Security Council veto of Palestinian statehood ambitions risked engendering a new cycle of violence in the Middle East.

"Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters and begin negotiation ... to a precise timetable," he said.

In a roadmap for peace, Sarkozy said negotiations should begin within one month, a deal on borders and security should happen within six months and a definitive agreement be reached within a year.

"Today we are facing a very difficult choice. Each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state," he said. "But who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East?"

Sarkozy said an intermediate stage should not be excluded.

"Why not envisage offering Palestine the status of United Nations observer state? This would be an important step forward. Most important, it would mean emerging from a state of immobility that favors only the extremists. We would be restoring hope by marking progress towards the final status," he said.

The Palestinians have said that as an alternative to the Security Council, where the United States has promised to veto any statehood vote, they could ask the UN General Assembly to approve upgrading their membership from "entity" to "non-member observer state."

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Abbas would study Sarkozy's proposals.