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Arriving In New York, Abbas Hails An 'Opportunity For Peace'

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has urged Israel to recognize a Palestinian state and not "lose an opportunity for peace" as he arrived in New York to submit a formal request for statehood during this week's United Nations General Assembly.

Abbas is to formally submit the request for full membership after an address to the General Assembly on September 23.

The United States has threatened to veto any such move in the UN Security Council on the grounds that a future Palestinian state must be agreed in negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinians have refused to negotiate unless Israel implements a building freeze in disputed areas, but Abbas says his new UN membership bid should not rule out possible future talks with Israel.

The first direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in two years lasted just a few weeks in September before running into problems.

There have been reports of increased violence and rocket fire in the region over the past few weeks.

compiled from news agency reports