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UN vote on Palestine: Can Tony Blair prevent a diplomatic train wreck?

With Israeli and Palestinian leaders converging on the UN to state their cases, some warn that a diplomatic clash could lead to renewed Mideast violence. But Tony Blair reportedly has a plan.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (r.) meets Middle East envoy Tony Blair in the West Bank city of Ramallah September 6. Blair and Abbas hope to prevent Mideast violence through a plan they will unveil at the UN in New York next week.

Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

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The Israeli and Palestinian leaders are headed for a showdown at the United Nations next week – unless former British Prime Minister Tony Blair succeeds in an apparent 11th-hour bid to table a controversial UN vote on Palestinian statehood.

Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday they plan to address the UN in New York late next week – Mr. Abbas to seek approval of Palestine as a UN member state, Mr. Netanyahu to tell the UN General Assembly why in his view a vote on Palestine would ruin chances for Mideast peace.

The looming confrontation over Palestine – with the United States promising to use its veto if the question of UN membership as a full-fledged state reaches the Security Council – is being portrayed in various quarters from the US to Europe and beyond as a diplomatic train wreck waiting to happen.

Some analysts warn of a day-after of confusion and dashed hopes that could spawn a new wave of Mideast violence.

It is in this climate of tension and foreboding that Mr. Blair is reportedly shopping around a plan to apply the train’s brakes and avoid a crash. Blair is the envoy of the Middle East Quartet, comprised of the US, the European Union, Russia, and the UN.


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