Tony Blair and Netanyahu - Moshe Milner - Feb 4, 2011
Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, February 4, 2011. Photo by Moshe Milner
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet today with the forum of eight senior ministers to report on his trip to New York, during which he addressed the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu is also expected to try to formulate an official Israeli response to the Quartet's call on Israel and the Palestinians to renew negotiations within a month. Netanyahu seems likely to respond positively to the Quartet's call, but seeks the agreement of the senior ministers.

For his part, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be calling a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership to discuss the Quartet's statement. Speaking yesterday by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Abbas said he understood that the Quartet was calling for negotiations based on the 1967 borders and opposed unilateral moves, meaning construction in the settlements should stop.

Meanwhile, a special committee of the UN Security Council will begin deliberations today in New York on the Palestinian application for full UN membership. The committee is expected to focus on a timetable for submission of its report to the Security Council.

UN regulations stipulate a 60-day limit to such deliberations, but this could be extended if Security Council members ask for more time.

Abbas said if there was no progress within a few weeks, the Palestinians would turn to the General Assembly to upgrade the PA to that of a non-member observer.

Natasha Mozgovaya adds: Yesterday, around 12 senators, members of Congress and representatives of leading Jewish organizations called a press conference near United Nations Headquarters in New York to express their dissatisfaction with the course the Palestinian leadership has taken.

According to Republican Congressman Bob Turner, from New York's Ninth District, the Palestinian Authority "continues to pay - with U.S. dollars - terrorists in Israeli prisons convicted of murdering Israeli civilians... If the United Nations truly wants to stand up against terrorism, it has a moral obligation to deny this request."

Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' actions a counter-productive publicity stunt, adding: "His actions cross a line and should lead to a reevaluation of U.S. assistance for the Palestinian Authority."