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Abbas Opts For Statehood Not Talks

JERUSALEM, Aug. 14 (UPI) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to avoid negotiating with Israel and seek statehood is “regrettable,” the Israeli prime minister’s bureau said.

The statement released by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office Saturday night was in response to reports that Abbas will seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations next month rather than negotiate with Israel.

“Abbas has apparently decided to avoid direct negotiations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu … Netanyahu still believes that only direct and real negotiations — not unilateral decisions — can advance the peace process,” the statement said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki Saturday said Abbas plans to present his request for statehood recognition personally to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the start of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20, Haaretz said.

Al-Maliki said the reason September was chosen is because Lebanon holds the presidency of the Security Council, Haaretz said.

An unnamed Palestinian official told Haaretz Abbas met with Israeli President Shimon Peres at least four times in recent months in an effort to resume negotiations between the sides. The official said a fifth meeting was canceled at Netanyahu’s request.

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