RAMALLAH, April 13 (Ali Sawafta/Reuters) - The United States must move fast on its planned drive to revive Middle East talks before Palestinians seek recognition as a state, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday.
It's time for the American administration to move before September, the spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said.
Given a continuing impasse despite 18 years of talks, Palestinian leaders aim to ask the UN General Assembly in September for recognition of statehood on all of the territory Israel occupied in 1967. That would include Gaza, over which the Palestinian Authority currently has no control.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States planned a new push to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, suggesting a stronger hand by Israel's closest ally.
Talk about plans and new initiatives is not enough. There should be an effective US role and strong policy against settlements, Abu Rdainah said in response.
The administration has started to realize the situation in the Mideast is dangerous.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad briefed a panel of Western representatives in Brussels on Wednesday on his bid for nearly $5 billion in investment to launch a Palestinian state.
The committee welcomed reports by the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund praising Fayyad's efforts over the past two years to establish the institutions and attributes of a modern state in time for the UN assembly.
It amounts to a birth certificate for the reality of Palestinian statehood, Fayyad told reporters after the meeting.
US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last September in a dispute over continued Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
In a speech to Arab and US policy makers that placed particular emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Clinton said President Barack Obama will lay out his policy towards the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned against unilateral moves such as declaring statehood, arguing that a solution could only be achieved by direct negotiations. Israel disputes the Palestinian claim on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it captured from Jordanian control in 1967.
Abbas refuses to resume the suspended talks until the Israelis freeze all West Bank settlement construction, arguing that it continues to take land away from a future Palestine.
An Israeli government official, who declined to be named, said Israel was ready to begin negotiations again at any time.
Netanyahu is widely expected to visit the United States in May and media reports have said he may float fresh ideas on how to get the peace process going again.
(Additional reporting by Justina Pawlak in Brussels and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Douglas Hamilton)