- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 13, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s top two Mideast peace envoys are returning to the region this week in a last-ditch bid to avert a looming crisis over a Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations later this month.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she was sending David Hale, the special envoy for Middle East peace, and Dennis Ross, the top Mideast adviser at the National Security Council, to Israel and the Palestinian territories to try to persuade the Palestinians to drop their U.N. effort and bring the parties back to long-stalled talks.

Mr. Ross and Mr. Hale will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try “to create a sustainable platform for negotiations that can produce the two-state outcome that we seek,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters at the State Department. “Our hope is we get the parties back into a frame of mind and into a process where they actually begin negotiating again.”

Mr. Hale and Mr. Ross were last in the region just over a week ago but failed to persuade Palestinian officials to abandon their quest for U.N. recognition. Israel is vehemently opposed to such a move, and the United States has said it will veto it in the U.N. Security Council. However, the Palestinians have suggested that instead of going to the Security Council, they may seek a vote on a recognition resolution at the U.N. General Assembly, where the U.S. cannot veto it and it is likely to pass.

Israel and the United States insist that the United Nations is not the forum to create a state and that a future Palestine must come as the result of direct negotiations.

“We need an environment that is conducive to direct negotiations,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We all know that no matter what happens or doesn’t happen at the U.N., the next day is not going to result in the kind of changes that the United States wishes to see that would move us toward a two-state solution that we strongly support. The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties, and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York.”

Mrs. Clinton said that “the issue is not simply that action in New York will not bring peace and stability, but it will create more distractions toward achieving that goal.”