Updated at 6 p.m. edt
The Obama administration reaffirmed today it would veto a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood if such a proposal reaches the United Nations Security Council later this month.
"The U.S. will veto," said State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland. "I think the President's been clear all along that he opposes this, and has also made clear that the U.S. would oppose such a move firmly in the U.N."
The position inside the Obama administration is that statehood would not change the relationship between Israel and Palestine or the conditions for the Palestinian people, but it could raise already toxic tensions in the Middle East.
"As we've said a number of times, the day after any action in the U.N., you haven't changed the fundamental situation. And what we are seeking to do is to get to a place where we can have two states living side by side in peace and security. An action in New York is not going to achieve that objective," Nuland said.
"The concern here is that you inflame the situation; you make it harder to get back to talks. It would be far better to get back to talks than to end up in a situation in New York that makes tensions in the region higher," she added.
The Arab Spring just became very complicated as the Palestinian Authority officially asked United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to move towards recognizing the state of Palestine when the UN General Assembly convenes Sept. 21.
In a letter delivered today to the Ban's Ramallah office, the PA asked him to lend his "moral voice in support of the Palestinian people," according to the Associated Press.
"Families of the tens of thousands of victims of Israeli occupation, including those martyred, wounded and imprisoned, and countless others who were expelled from their homes or lost their homes and their property, hope that you will exert all possible efforts toward the achievement of the Palestinian people's just demands," the letter states.
The PA is seeking a state within the borders prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, including the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
U.S. and European leaders have tried unsuccessfully to persuade PA President Mahmoud Abbas to abandon the effort, but the Palestinian leader has complained there is no hope for meaningful final status negotiations as long as Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu continues to stall and allow the expansion of Jewish settlements in thee West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem.
Israel and the PA have not had formal talks since 2008.
The U.S. may find itself in the position of having to veto a resolution in the UN Security Council to block outright statehood.
"We’ll go to the Security Council despite expectations of the US veto," Palestinian Democratic Union Secretary-General Kamal said according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
There is a way around the UN Security Council for the PA by going directly to the UN General Assembly. The PA can become a "non-member state" if it gets 129 of 193 votes in the UN General Assembly, giving it the same status as The Vatican.
Israel has lobbied dozens of UN members to oppose the effort, but it is widely held that the PA is in a position to get the two-thirds support from the UN General Assembly for the upgrade from its current status as "entity."
South Africa has pledged to win unanimous support on the African continent for Palestinian statehood. Permanent UN Security Council member China has also endorsed the Palestinian plan.
The U.S. and Israel have threatened economic sanctions against the PA, but that move would be potentially detrimental to Washington, which has greatly improved its image in the Middle East with its support for the Pan-Arab pro-democracy movement sweeping the region.
There is still time to avoid the showdown when the world body gathers in New York City later this month, but both sides will likely have to compromise to make that happen.