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svgadminsvgSeptember 19, 2011svgNews

Barak Meets Fayyad to Head Off Showdown

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Fayyad met in New York Sunday as western diplomats frantically try to head off a showdown at the United Nations.

“There was a short meeting between the two and they discussed the UN bid, security and other issues,” a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Israeli officials did not comment.

Barak represents the left-wing flank of the government coalition and is visiting the United States to discuss defense and security issues with American officials.

Simultaneous with the Barak-Fayyad meeting, which was unannounced, Quartet diplomats from the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia huddled for urgent talks.

Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair remained optimistic that “there is a way of avoiding a confrontation.”

The PA has claimed that it has the necessary support in the United Nations Security Council to support its bid for recognition as a full member of the United Nations. If true, it would force the United States to exercise its promised veto and leave the PA with having to settle for a non-binding resolution for recognition in the pro-Arab General Assembly.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters en route to New York that he expects a “very difficult” time after the bid for recognition is formally made. The United States has threatened to cut off aid in retaliation for burying the America-sponsored effort to reach an agreement with Israel through direct talks for creating the PA as a new country within Israel’s borders.

“The Palestinian people and their leadership will pass through very difficult times after the Palestinian approach to the United Nations through the Security Council to seek full membership for the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.

Abbas is counting on universal condemnation of Israel to embarrass the Obama administration, reduce its influence in the Middle East and allow pro-Arab Western countries to place more pressure on Israel to meet Arab conditions.

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