Barack Obama has told Mahmoud Abbas the US will veto his bid for full UN membership, saying it was not the way to achieve a Palestinian state.
Engaging in shuttle diplomacy to avoid Friday’s showdown in New York, Obama equally told the Israelis to get on with direct talks to restart a dialogue.
Palestinian moves to allow the Security Council to mull over the UN bid hinted at some flexibility.
Nabil Shaath, senior advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “President Abbas does not want anybody to suspect lack of seriousness if we address the two councils at the same time, so he will give some time to the Security Council to consider first our full membership request before heading to the General Assembly.”
There has been much support in New York for the Palestinian position but the risks of failure for Abbas back home are immense.
There are fears that frustrated hopes, along with an adamant Israel refusing to stop expanding settlements as a prerequisite for talks, could spark a fresh round of violence between the two sides.