US Envoys Returning For 'More Talks'

Two US envoys are returning to Israel in hopes of jump-starting talks between Israel and the PA, and averting the PA statehood bid.

Gabe Kahn. ,

Dennis Ross
Dennis Ross
Official Photo

Two senior US envoys will return to Israel this week in hopes of averting the Palestinian Authority statehood bid at the United Nations.

Dispatching the envoys, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday the path to a two-state solution creating a PA state inside Israel runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah - not New York.

David Hale, the US Mideast peace envoy and Dennis Ross, a senior White House official, will head back for more talks one week after an initial set of meetings with Israeli and PA leaders made little headway.

The increase in US activity comes as President Barack Obama's administration scrambles to head off PA officials from seeking full membership during the UN General Assembly session that begins on Sept. 19, despite US and Israeli objections.

US officials fear the PA move could complicate flagging efforts to resume direct peace talks, which have been stalled for almost two years despite a 10-month Israeli moratorium on Jewish settlement construction aimed at luring the PA back to the negotiating table.

Israel is lobbying against the PA bid, which it sees as an effort to isolate and delegitimize it and extend the conflict into new arenas such as the International Criminal Court - but that could prove a double-edged sword for the PA who would then be eligible to be sued in the ICC as well.

The PA is currently a UN observer without voting rights. To become a full member, their bid would have to be approved by the UN Security Council, where the United States has said it will veto it.

The United States and Israel argue that issues such as PA statehood should be decided by the two sides at the negotiating table rather than at the United Nations.

Diplomats have said it is not clear what the PA will do when the UN General Assembly opens next week.

Rather than seeking full UN membership for a state in territories disputed since Israel took responsibility for their administration in the 1967 Six Day War, the PA could seek status as a "non-member state," which would require a simple majority of the 193-nation assembly.

The United States, however, said it would not favor this model either.

"Our view remains that neither course, neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly, is going to lead to the result that they seek, which is to have a stable, secure state living in peace, that they have to do this through negotiations," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Monday.