French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said that it is impossible to rule out the option of the United Nations Security Council creating a Palestinian state, French news agency AFP on Sunday quoted a Palestinian newspaper as saying.

According to the report, Kouchner told the Al-Ayyam newspaper that France prefers a two-state solution negotiated with Israel but that the Security Council option remains on the table.

"We want to be able to soon welcome the state of Palestine to the United Nations," Kouchner is quoted as saying. "This is the hope and the desire of the international community, and the sooner that can happen the better. The international community cannot be satisfied with a prolonged deadlock. I therefore believe that one cannot rule out in principle the Security Council option."

Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos arrived in Israel on Sunday for talks on the peace process. The two are pushing French President Nicolas Sarkozy's idea of a summit in Paris later this month between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Sunday evening, Kouchner visited the tent set up by captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit's parents outside the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. Shalit is a dual Israeli-French citizen.

On Saturday, an Abbas aide to Abbas said that Abbas has told Arab leaders he may seek United States recognition for a Palestinian state, which would include all of the West Bank, should peace talks with Israel break down.

The idea, raised during Arab League deliberations in Libya on Friday, would place new pressure on Israel to extend a recently expired freeze on construction of settlements in the West Bank - a Palestinian condition for continuing recently relaunched direct peace negotiations.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said "alternatives" to the face-to-face talks launched at the start of September had been discussed, among them "ask(ing) the United States to recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders."

"[Another] is to study the possibility of going to the [United Nations] Security Council to get a resolution that calls upon member states to recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders," he told Reuters by telephone from the Libyan town of Sirte.