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Israeli Prime Minister Says Palestinian Statehood Bid Will Fail

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he believes Palestinian officials will fail in their bid for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu, speaking at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem ahead of the Palestinians' UN bid, expressed confidence that a Security Council vote on statehood would not succeed, and that even a General Assembly resolution on granting Palestine the status of a nonmember "state" -- rather than a nonmember "entity" -- would be largely ineffectual.

"Now there is also a UN parliament. This parliament is called the General Assembly, and there you can pass almost any resolution," Netanyahu said. "You can decide there that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east."

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas says he plans to demand full membership of the United Nations when he goes before the General Assembly next week.

Palestinians are asking the UN to recognize their independence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, which were seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Netanyahu said today that Israel's rights to that land "go back 4,000 years."

The United States has indicated it will veto any statehood vote brought before the Security Council. But a number of countries have backed the Palestinian statehood bid, including the Arab League States, Norway, and Security Council member Russia.

The issue is likely to stoke fresh tensions between Israeli and Palestinian officials. The Quartet of Middle East negotiators is scheduled to meet later today in an attempt to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

compiled from agency reports

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