One week before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will submit a statehood application to the U.N. Secretary General, intense negotiations are taking place in Cairo, Brussels, Washington and New York.
Speaking to the Arab League Tuesday, Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan bolstered his position of leadership in the Arab world, and highlighted his country's rift with Israel, saying, "The recognition of a Palestinian state is the only right way. It's not an option, but an obligation. God willing, by the end of this month, we will have the opportunity to see Palestine in a very different status at the United Nations."
Abbas set the date for the commencement of the Palestinian Authority's statehood bid for September 20, the day before President Obama addresses the U.N. General Assembly. He is then expected to outline the Palestinian position when he speaks to the General Assembly on September 23. But the timing of a vote -- and whether or not Abbas will attempt to bring the vote to the Security Council, where the Obama Administration has vowed to veto a Resolution, or direct to the General Assembly -- is not clear.
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor told CBS News that Israel is still hopeful that there will be a diplomatic solution and the vote averted, "We have to sit down with the Palestinian authority in direct negotiations in order to bridge the problems. There is no other way around that." Prosor said, "We are trying to get to direct negotiations - up to the last moment."
In Cairo, at an Arab League meeting, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that there is no united position on the Palestinian statehood bid, "There is no resolution on the table yet, so there is no position."
After meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr, she said, "What is clear from the European Union is that the way forward is negotiations," but Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said in a press conference after the meeting that "consultations and communications will continue in order to reach the goal" of Palestinian membership at the U.N.
Some have forecast dire consequences if the showdown reaches the U.N. A New York Times editorial this week said, "A United Nations vote on Palestinian membership would be ruinous. Yet with little time left before the U.N. General Assembly meets, the United States, Israel and Europe have shown insufficient urgency or boldness in trying to find a compromise solution. The need for action is even more acute after alarming tensions flared in recent days between Israel and two critical regional players -- Egypt and Turkey."
Palestinian statehood question to be center stage at U.N. in Sept.?Supporters of Palestinian state could circumvent U.S. veto at United Nations
At the U.N., Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin confirmed that Moscow would back the Palestinian bid, "We will vote in favor of the Palestinian U.N. bid, but I must say that we will not push Palestinians to move in that direction."
In Washington, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made the president's position clear.
"Our view remains that neither course - neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly - is going to lead to the result that they seek, which is to have a stable, secure state living in peace; that they have to do this through negotiations; and that that's the fastest and best course to do so."
Nuland said that the Obama administration is speaking with Israelis and Palestinians to get them back to negotiations before the U.N. General Assembly.
Prosor, meanwhile, doubted that the Palestinian bid represented all Palestinians, "Abbas is coming to the United Nations and declaring unilateral statehood about what? Is it Abbas or is it Hamas? It's the only guy I know who is the President of an Authority who has zero authority about what is going on in Gaza."