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Obama Calls Palestinian UN Move ‘A Mistake’

May 26, 2011
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While Obama did not explicitly promise to veto a unilateral Palestinian UN statehood resolution, he said that going to the UN instead of reaching a deal with Israel “does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, it will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state. And the United States will continue to make that argument both in the United Nations and in our various meetings around the world.”

Obama made the comments during a press conference in the UK with British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Israeli hopes to prevent the Palestinians from going to the UN—or from being sufficiently successful if they do—will likely hinge on the USA’s ability to convince European states from supporting the Palestinian resolution. While Obama is sharing some of his concerns about the matter while abroad, it is unclear if he is explicitly urging others to veto the UN resolution.

The UN Security Council is the only body capable of enacting a legally binding Palestinian statehood recognition, and the US and UK are two of the five nations that have veto power in the Council. In light of that, it appears the Palestinians most viable move would be to seek a non-binding resolution from the UN General Assembly—in which there are no veto powers—to recognize a Palestinian state and then attempt to use that symbolic political momentum to pressure Israel into concessions. Therefore, the political weight of European support could be significant.

So far, at least some in Europe are non-committal about how they will vote on a Palestinian UN statehood resolution, including Cameron, the UK leader. During the press conference with Obama, Cameron said regarding the Palestinian UN matter that “as for Britain, we don’t believe the time for making a decision about the UN resolution—there isn’t even one there at the moment—is right yet. We want to discuss this within the European Union and try and maximize the leverage and pressure that the European Union can bring, frankly, on both sides to get this vital process moving.”

The peace process has been suspended since last year, when the Palestinians halted talks following the end of Israel’s ten-month settlement construction freeze in the West Bank. Since then, Israel has repeatedly called for more talks, while the Palestinians have refused unless their preconditions are met.  

While Cameron apparently believes that using the UN as a threat can convince the Israelis to make more compromises, it remains to be seen if it is in fact helping to drive the Palestinians from the bargaining table in a quest for even more concessions.  

Despite his openness to supporting the UN resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood, Cameron said that Obama “is entirely right that in the end the Palestinian state will only come about if the Palestinians and the Israelis can agree to it coming about. That is the vital process that has to take place.”

Posted on May 26, 2011

Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, May 25, 2011)

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