Bosnia's trio of presidents said Thursday they could not agree on whether to support a Palestinian bid for full U.N. membership, with Sarajevo potentially holding a key vote in the U.N. Security Council.
Bosnia's presidency has been shared by leaders of its Muslim, Croat and Serb communities since its 1992-95 war.
In a statement after meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the triumvirate said it had so far been unable to reach a joint position on the Palestinian application, reflecting the country's own ethnic divisions.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki is expected to arrive in Sarajevo Friday to ask for Bosnia's vote as a temporary member of the Security Council and the admissions committee currently discussing the issue.
Given the constellation of Security Council members, Bosnia's vote could be key and potentially force a promised veto by the United States. Thursday's statement meant Sarajevo would likely abstain.
The presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina does not have a single view about the issue, while such decisions must be taken through consensus, the presidency statement quoted chairman Zeljko Komsic, a Croat, as saying.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, as a country which has been through the hell of war, cares very much that all open issues should be resolved with great patience and wisdom, because this is the only path to a sustainable peace, Komsic added.
The Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) presidency member, Bakir Izetbegovic, expressed his strong support for the Palestinian cause, while Serb member Nebojsa Radmanovic said he was opposed to unilateral action and supported direct talks between the two sides, according to the statement.
The Palestinian application for U.N. membership, submitted by President Mahmoud Abbas on September 23, is expected to be dealt with by Security Council ambassadors on or around November 11, according to diplomatic sources.
Bosnian Muslims are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, with the Palestinian Authority the first to recognise Bosnia as an independent country when it split from the former Yugoslav federation in 1992.
Lieberman openly lobbied Serbs in Bosnia's autonomous Serb republic last summer, when he spent a week of his holiday in the main town Banja Luka, promising investment and financial support to the impoverished region.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic)