PA Official: U.S. Mideast Peace Offer Convinced Palestinians to Seek Statehood at UN

Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath says proposal offered by visiting U.S. envoys only achieved in convincing President Abbas that Washington wasn't serious about brokering peace with Israel.

A last-ditch U.S. attempt to sway the Palestinian Authority away from its planned statehood bid at the United Nations and toward resumed negotiations with Israel achieved only in convincing the Palestinians that recognition in the UN was their only possibility, a PA official said on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said that a plan
delivered at the last minute by U.S. envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross did not meet several Palestinian demands, thus convincing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the U.S. was not serious in trying to negotiate peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Barack Obama

"David Hale and Dennis Ross came with a paper that was the last straw that he [Abbas] could take," said Shaath. "It seems that it was designed to be rejected."

One issue the Palestinians had with the American proposal was did not refer to disputed Israeli settlements as illegal, instead attributing their presence to demographic trends since 1967.

Shaath said accepting the U.S. proposal would have legalized the disputed settlements.

The Palestinians have been demanding that Israel should stop all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, before they will agree to resume stalled negotiations.

Shaath said Abbas will apply for membership to the Security Council, which may take few days to bring it up for discussion and then a vote.

However, he said, in case the Security Council stalls in its procedures and delays discussion of the membership application, the Palestinian Authority may then go to the UN General Assembly to ask for a non-member state post. Indications are that a majority of the General Assembly would back that move.

In a speech Friday, Abbas said that he was going only to the Security Council without saying what would his next step should the Palestinian application - as the U.S. has signaled it will do.