Abbas at UN - AP - Sept. 21, 2011
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds his hands to his face as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the 66th session of the General Assembly at UN headquarters, Sept. 21, 2011. Photo by AP
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The United Nations panel responsible for admitting new members will likely mull the Palestinian statehood application for several weeks before making a decision, diplomatic sources said Friday.

The general consensus at the United Nations headquarters in New York is that the panel discussions over the Palestinian application for full membership will continue to deliberate over technical matters as long as the U.S., European Union and the Quartet are leading efforts to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

According to diplomatic sources, the U.S. and its Western allies have a special interest in ‘dragging’ the debate on, with the purpose of giving their efforts vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinian Authority a fighting chance.

“There is no announcement expected - either positive or negative – regarding the Palestinian application until the members of the [Security] Council feel that all of the diplomatic avenues to bring the sides to the negotiation table are exhausted,” a senior Western diplomat said.

After the closed-door meeting of the council's standing committee on admitting new members, which comprises all 15 council members, Lebanese UN Ambassador Nawaf Salam said the committee unanimously agreed to continue meeting at the expert level next week.

It was the beginning of an assessment process that will pit the aid-dependent Palestinians against the United States and Israel, both of which vehemently oppose the membership bid, in trying to secure the support of undecided council members.

Salam has been the president of the Security Council this month. Nigerian Ambassador Joy Ogwu takes over the chair on Saturday for the month of October, which means she will be overseeing the standing committee's work.

Western diplomats on the council say the Palestinian UN bid is doomed to failure due to U.S. opposition. But the chief Palestinian delegate at the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, reiterated his hope that the application would not sit too long in the committee but would be swiftly approved by the panel.

"They will start dealing with the details of things related to our application," Mansour told reporters after the council meeting. "We hope that the experts will deal with this part of the exercise in a short period of time."