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Palestinian statehood: Israel warns of 'harsh' consequences

world Updated: Sep 14, 2011 19:46 IST

Hardline Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman warned on Wednesday, there will be "harsh and grave consequences" if the Palestinians persist with their plan to seek UN membership as a state.

Speaking shortly before a scheduled meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Lieberman did not elaborate on the possible consequences. "The moment has not yet come to give details of what will happen," he said.

In the past he has called for Israel to sever all relations with the administration of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas should it press on with its UN bid.

"What I can say with the greatest confidence is that from the moment they pass a unilateral decision there will be harsh and grave consequences," Lieberman told an agricultural conference in southern Israel. "I hope that we shall not come to those harsh and grave consequences, and that common sense will prevail in all decisions taken in order to allow co-existence and progress with negotiations," he added.

Lieberman has in the past accused the Palestinians of planning an "unprecedented bloodbath" after the UN move although they say they will hold purely peaceful rallies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Ehud Barak earlier on Wednesday met Ashton in Jerusalem. Netanyahu's office did not immediately comment on the talks while a short statement from the defence ministry said only that Ashton and Barak had discussed "relations with the Palestinians and the situation in the region."

The EU foreign policy chief arrived from Cairo, where she met Abbas and Arab League ministers who have been discussing Palestinian preparations to request UN membership for a state of Palestine.

Abbas is expected next week to present a membership request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who will pass it on to the 15-member Security Council for examination.