Envoys from the Middle East East Quartet will meet Sunday in a last minute bid to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and stave off a statehood bid at the United Nations this week, according to Reuters news.
The efforts of the quartet - consisting of the European Union, the United States, Russia and the UN - are part of the international diplomatic push in recent weeks aimed at persuading the Palestinians to drop their UN plans. This included EU attempts to convince Abbas to settle for an upgrade of the PA's UN status rather than statehood.
Washington, and Israel,say that a UN vote over Palestinian statehood would circumvent peace negotiations, and insist that a state can only be created through a settlement achieved between the two sides.
The EU, whose unity is being threatened by the euro crisis and disagreements on bailouts, does not want to see a split vote among its 27 members at the international forum - with some voting for, some opposing it and some abstaining.
A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU has not yet decided how it will act at the UN. "The next days are crucial," spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. "It is for Palestinians to decide on next steps but we continue to believe that a constructive solution that can gather as much support as possible and allows for the resumption of negotiations is the best and only way to deliver the peace and two-state solution the Palestinian people want."
"We will redouble our efforts together with our partners in the quartet to launch negotiations between the parties as soon as possible. This remains the only way to end the conflict," Kocijancic said.
The meeting in New York will come two days after President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that he would demand full membership of the United Nations for a Palestinian state when he goes to the UN General Assembly next week, setting up a diplomatic clash with Israel and the United States.
In a televised speech on Friday, Abbas said he would go to the Security Council to request the "Palestinians' legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine," despite the US firmly promising it would veto the move.
PA officials have launched a belligerent propaganda campaign against the US veto ahead of their bid saying it would 'destroy' the two-state solution and hinting they might dismantle their own administrative apparatus should it come to pass.
In such a case, they say, the PLO would demand the 'right of return' for millions of so-called 'Palestinian refugees' - the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel before the 1948 Arab-Israeli war who have never been granted citizenship by the Arab countries in which they live so as to keep them at Israel's gates - to Israel, a demographic death-knell for the Jewish state.
The last round of the US-backed talks between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed nearly a year ago.
PA officials have consistently thrown up preconditions for talks known to be unacceptable to Israel as a means of evading direct negotiations.