Peres heads to Washington for Obama meeting

A Palestinian bid for UN recognition will be a major focus of discussion.

The Palestinian Authority's initiative to win UN General Assembly recognition as an independent state in September will be a main issue at Tuesday's meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres. Peres will also likely face the storm that has erupted over Friday's op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" by Judge Richard Goldstone, in which he retreated from accusations against Israel in his report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009 for the UN Human Rights Commission.

"The New York Times" today reports that Peres is due to meet Obama at the White House to "explore ways out of the bind", as more than 100 countries are expected to vote in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution to add Palestine as a UN member. There is no veto in General Assembly votes, so the US cannot block the resolution. The New York Times says that the move would mean that Israel would become an occupying power on most of the territory of a member state of the UN, with all the consequences that this implies.

"The New York Times" cites diplomats as saying that the US is still uncertain how to move the process forward.

"The New York Times" says that aides of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been working on proposals for the Palestinians, including the transfer of land outside settlement blocs to the Palestinian Authority and convening an international conference to serve as a response to the Arab League peace initiatives.

These proposals could be the basis of Netanyahu's "Bar Ilan 2" speech that he is due to deliver to both houses of Congress in May. Netanayu delivered a major foreign policy speech, relatively early in his term, at Bar Ilan University.

"The New York Times" adds that Palestinian leaders, emboldened by support for their statehood bid, dismiss the expected offer as insufficient and continue to demand an end to settlement building before talks can begin.

A statement by the White House says that Obama and Peres will discuss a number of issues of joint concern to Israel and the US, including defense cooperation, recent developments in the Middle East, and the peace talks. They will hold a one-on-one working meeting, and then have lunch.

While in the US, Peres will also meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, and with Congressional leaders from both parties on Wednesday. He will also conduct numerous interviews with the press.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on April 3, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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