Image: Abbas
Amr Nabil  /  AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center, and Arab League leaders gathered in Libya to discuss a deepening crisis over Israel's refusal to extend a slowdown in settlement construction in the Palestinian territories.
updated 10/9/2010 3:35:34 PM ET 2010-10-09T19:35:34

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday sought Arab League backing for possible alternatives to troubled peace talks with Israel, including urging the Obama administration to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, an Abbas aide said.

The Arab League, meeting in Libya over the weekend, has given the U.S. another month to try to salvage the negotiations, but has also begun to consider fallback options in case the talks collapse.

The U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which began last month at the White House, have hit an impasse over Israel's refusal to extend a 10-month-old slowdown on settlement construction that expired in late September.

Abbas has said he will not resume talks without such an extension, and won Arab League backing for his position. Israel has refused to extend the moratorium, though it is considering compromises.

On Saturday, Abbas asked Arab leaders to consider alternatives to the negotiations, said Saeb Erekat, a top aide to the Palestinian president.

Erekat said Abbas asked Arab leaders on Saturday "to press the American administration to recognize an independent Palestinian state within the borders of 1967."

If the Americans reject the request, the Palestinians might take up the issue with the Security Council, nonetheless, Erekat said.

Palestinian officials have said in the past that if peace talks fall through, they might ask the U.N. Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War.

However, in such a scenario, a U.S. veto at the Security Council seems likely.

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The United States opposes a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood and has pushed back against efforts at the U.N. to recognize such a state. The long-standing U.S. position is that statehood should come through negotiations with the Israelis.

Abbas told the summit that he did not expect Israel to budge on the settlement issue, and that in the meantime opposition to continuing the talks is building among the Palestinian people, according to two Arab diplomats.

"We have exhausted all our alternatives," the diplomats quoted Abbas as saying. They spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak about information discussed in the closed session.

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