Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Thursday that the Palestinians will submit a bid for full membership at the United Nations Security Council on September 23, but said that they would be open to other suggestions.
The remarks by Malki put an end to speculation that the Palestinians might avoid a showdown with the United States by sidestepping the Security Council and going directly to the UN General Assembly to seek a lesser status of a non-member observer.
Malki said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will personally submit the Palestinian request for membership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after addressing the General Assembly on the afternoon of Sept. 23. In the meantime, he said the Palestinians would listen to suggested alternatives.
"We will see if anyone carries with him or her any credible offer that will allow us to look into it seriously and to be discussed in the Palestinian leadership. Otherwise, on the 23rd at 12:30, the president will submit the application," Malki told foreign journalists in Ramallah.
The U.S. does not wield veto power in the General Assembly, and a Palestinian bid there would be expected to win majority approval.
The Palestinians will likely still end up at the General Assembly with scaled-back ambitions, however, if the U.S. exercises its veto power in the Security Council as expected.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu announced Thursday that he plans on flying to New York on Wednesday to attend the discussions, and to address the General Assembly on Friday, the same day the Palestinians plan to submit their bid for full membership to the Security Council.
The U.S. has been on a furious diplomatic offensive to try to keep the Palestinians from going to the UN in their statehood quest, saying negotiations are the only way to produce a Palestinian state.
Israel also opposes the UN move, which the Palestinians launched after concluding that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations - stalled for nearly three years - were not going to produce any breakthroughs at this time.
Al-Malki's comments came as U.S. and other international envoys were shuttling back and forth between Jerusalem and Ramallah in an effort to avert a diplomatic crisis over the Palestinians' UN bid.