Israel: Abbas avoiding direct peace talks with UN statehood bid
Palestinian FM says that Mahmoud Abbas will personally present Palestinian bid for full UN membership at General Assembly meeting in New York on September 20.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a statement on Saturday evening, calling the decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September an "expected but regrettable step."
"[Abbas] has apparently decided to avoid direct negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu," the statement read. Netanyahu "still believes that only direct and real negotiations - not unilateral decisions - can advance the peace process."
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said earlier on Saturday that Abbas will personally present the Palestinian bid for full UN membership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the opening of the General Assembly session in New York on September 20.
"We will insist on this historic initiative and Ban Ki-moon will present the request to the Security Council," al-Maliki said.
Al-Maliki also said that the PA chose September because Lebanon will hold the presidency of the Security Council during that time period.
Opposition leader and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni said on Saturday that the Palestinian decision was "bad for Israel."
"One person is reponsible for this political failure - Netanyahu," Livni said in a statement. "His inability to grasp reality and his refusal to continue negotiations conducted by Kadima in which we protected Israel's interests are leading Israel to one of the most dangerous political disasters in its history."
"Instead of the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of an agreement with Israel, Netanyahu is leading the world to establish a state in opposition to Israel's position," Livni continued. "Netanyahu's conduct is endangering Israel's interests and bringing Israel unprecedented political weakness that will harm its security. Netanyahu thought he was talking strongly when in fact he was weakening Israel. Kadima is once again calling for the resumption of negotiations before September."