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Palestinians, Israelis Just A Week Away From UN Confrontation

New York City Smack Dab In Middle Of World's Longest Running Theater
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Flags of Israel, Palestine and U.S.

Flags of Israel, Palestine and the U.S. (Photo: AP)

Tony Aiello thumbnail Tony Aiello
Tony Aiello serves as a CBS 2 general assignment reporter. After...
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In just a week, a dramatic Middle East showdown will take place in New York City.

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared he’ll travel here, to fight a Palestinian bid for United Nations membership as President Barack Obama tried to defuse a difficult situation, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

A billboard near the Javits Center is calling on the president to be more pro-Israel, while ads down below in the subway are calling on him to cut off Israel’s military aid.

The debate is building before the Palestinians make a bid for UN membership at next week’s annual General Assembly meeting.

“It is a very important moment in our history, where we are seeking international recognition for our state that we’ve been building for two decades now,” Palestinian diplomat Majed Bamya said.

The Palestinians can ask the Security Council for full voting membership, or ask the General Assembly for the lesser “observer state” status.

“The final decision will be taken within the next few days as to which path we will follow,” Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour said.

President Obama is asking the Palestinians to drop their UN bid, and renew settlement talks with Israel.

“You have to do it through direct negotiations. You won’t get it through the UN,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

One member of the Israeli parliament said Obama must get tougher with the Palestinians.

“United States could prevent this Palestinian move by telling them they will have no aid from the U.S.,” said Dr. Arieh Eldad, a member of Knesset.

Even within the Palestinian community some oppose the UN bid, so the National Authority has launched a public relations campaign and sent a ceremonial UN chair out on tour to build support.

“We were in the West Bank not long ago, and there are those Palestinians who will tell you this Palestinian strategy is nuts. This is not the way to get us where we need to go,” said David Harris of the American Jewish Committee.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Palestine Liberation Organization leader Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday and asked him to work with the U.S. to avoid “a negative scenario.”

That’s diplomatic language for don’t make us veto your UN bid — just drop it.

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