Israel Increases Efforts Against Statehood

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JERUSALEM, Aug. 15 (UPI) — Israel has stepped up efforts to get other countries to oppose the Palestinian request for statehood at the United Nations in September, officials said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent letters to more than 40 heads of state, urging them to vote against the Palestinians, saying the vote “places in doubt direct negotiations,” Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

“Ahead of the gathering of the U.N. General Assembly, I ask you to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Regardless of the path the Palestinians choose, their U.N. bid is an attempt to avoid negotiations that are based on mutual compromise. It also violates existing agreements between the two sides and places in doubt the option of direct negotiations, which is the only way to solve the conflict,” a copy of a letter obtained by the newspaper said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his deputy, Danny Ayalon, are meeting with leaders of other countries and conducting telephone conversations with diplomats as part of Israel’s effort, the newspaper said.

Government ministers sent abroad by Netanyahu include Moshe Yaalon, who traveled to Brazil and Peru, Yossi Peled, who was sent to Uruguay, Costa Rica and Guatemala, and Dan Meridor, who visited Jamaica and Mexico. Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer was sent to the Ivory Coast on Netanyahu’s behalf and delivered a letter to President Alassane Quattara, a personal friend of the Israeli prime minister, the newspaper said.

“Any Israeli minister, ambassador or senior diplomat that travels to another country is asked to take this letter. We are covering all continents,” an unnamed Israeli diplomat told the newspaper.

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