U.N. Vote on Palestinian State Could Force Israel’s Hand – NYTimes.com

With revolutionary fervor sweeping the Middle East, Israel is under mounting pressure to make a far-reaching offer to the Palestinians or face a United Nations vote welcoming the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

“We want to generate pressure on Israel to make it feel isolated and help it understand that there can be no talks without a stop to settlements,” said Nabil Shaath, who leads the foreign affairs department of Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority. “Without that, our goal is membership in the United Nations General Assembly in September.”

Mr. Shaath said Israel would then be in daily violation of the rights of a fellow member state and diplomatic and legal consequences could follow, all of which would be painful for Israel.

with Israeli-Palestinian talks broken off months ago and the Middle East in the process of profound change, many argue that outside pressure is needed.

Germany, France and Britain say negotiations should be based on the 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps, exactly what the Netanyahu government rejects because it says it predetermines the outcome.

“Does the world think it is going to force Israel to declare the 1967 lines and giving up Jerusalem as a basis for negotiation?” asked a top Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “That will never happen.”

While the Obama administration has referred in the past to the 1967 lines as a basis for talks, it has not decided whether to back the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — the other members of the so-called quartet — in declaring them the starting point, diplomats said. The quartet meets on April 15 in Berlin.

“All these years, the main obstacle to peace has been the settlements,” Nimer Hammad, a political adviser to President Abbas, said. “They always say, ‘but you never made it a condition of negotiations before.’ And we say, “that was a mistake.’ ”

via U.N. Vote on Palestinian State Could Force Israel’s Hand – NYTimes.com.

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