New York – US President Barack Obama has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he will veto his bid for UN membership, as he tried to persuade him to drop the plans, the BBC informs. But Mahmoud Abbas vowed to press ahead during a meeting with the US president, the White House said afterwards. Mr Obama had told on Wednesday the UN General Assembly a Palestinian state could only be achieved through talks with Israel. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned a veto could spark another cycle of violence in the region. Diplomatic efforts for Palestinian UN membership have intensified, with Mr Abbas preparing to submit a written application to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York today. Thousands of people rallied in the West Bank on Wednesday in support of the move. If Ban approves the request, the Security Council will examine it and vote on it. In order to pass, it would need the backing of nine out of 15 council members, with no vetoes from the permanent members. However, Obama had indicated the US will use its veto, leaving Western diplomats trying to find ways to put off the voting process to buy more time. The US President made his position clear to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Abbas during meetings late on Wednesday. “We would have to oppose any action at the UN Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing,” White House national Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes said after Mr Obama met Mr Abbas.
Netanyahu told reporters that Obama deserved a “badge of honour” for his defence of Israel. However, senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath argued that Palestinian UN membership was “morally, legally and politically acceptable in every way”.