Time is running short for U.S. diplomats as they attempt to head off a politically volatile vote in the United Nations over a Palestinian state. Senior Obama administration officials have told The New York Times that the White House is pushing a proposal for restarting Middle East peace talks in hopes of convincing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to pursue a vote on statehood at the U.N. General Assembly meeting, which begins on Sept. 20.
The Obama administration is concerned that a vote for statehood would undermine the Middle East peace process, and that if the U.S. stands as the only major "no" vote it could set off anti-American sentiment worldwide.
"President Obama would be put in the position of threatening to veto recognition of the aspirations of most Palestinians or risk alienating Israel and its political supporters in the United States," The Times noted.
The U.S. has pledged to veto Palestinian membership in the United Nations, but it cannot veto a possible second vote that would make Palestine a non-voting observer state at the world body.
Early indications from the Palestinian camp indicate that the White House offer may be too little and too late.
“Whoever wrote this thought we are so weak that we cannot even wiggle or that we are stupid,” Palestinian official Nabil Shaath told The Times. "...Whatever is to be offered, it is too late.”