President Barack Obama has personally sworn to veto any resolution recognising a free and independent Palestinian state because he claims the UN is not the right place for a new state to be born. His comments came during a face-to-face meeting with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who nevertheless vowed to press ahead with his country’s bid on September 23, 2011.
The 66th UN General Assembly, which is currently underway, has many issues on the table but, no doubt, the question of creating an independent Palestinian state is the most contentious. Palestinian authorities are prepared to raise the question of Palestine’s independence with Israel and they expect the UN to recognise its right to do so. A great deal of uncertainty remains.
The US president has met the leaders of both Israel and Palestine and though, as he put it, both the US and Israel see Palestine as an independent state, this could actually come about only in the future as a result of dialogue, so there is no need to raise the question as to whose side the US is on. After several decades of dialogue with Israel, Palestine has finally brought the question of its independence to the UN.
In the meantime, Moscow has been trying to persuade Washington to abstain from vetoing this, but here comes the US president, who finds himself in a really ambiguous situation. None other than Barack Obama said, one year ago, that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state should happen in 2011. And it was Barack Obama who has been consistently supporting the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East. President Obama simply cannot now just back off from Palestine because this would produce quite a negative effect on his image among the newly liberated countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa.
At the same time, with Israel being Washington’s key ally in the Middle East, the Obama administration cannot simply back off either. The Palestinians say that the decades-long negotiations with Tel Aviv have really led to nothing. Palestinian authorities say they cannot back down on their agenda either with over one million Palestinians under blockade in the Gaza Strip. For those people, independence from Israel is the last hope they have.
Obama tries to derail Palestinian U.N. bid
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama told the United Nations on Wednesday there was no short cut to Middle East peace, but Palestinians said they would press on with a request for U.N. recognition of their nascent state.
Amid frantic efforts to avert a diplomatic disaster, French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the United Nations to grant the Palestinians the status of observer state, like the Vatican, while outlining a one-year roadmap to peace.
With U.S. credibility and influence in the Middle East at stake, Obama wants to dissuade the Palestinians from asking the U.N. Security Council for full statehood in the teeth of Israeli anger and a U.S. threat to use its veto if it came to a vote.
But a senior Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath, said, "We will cordially and respectfully tell him 'No.'"
The Palestinians, however, would give the Security Council "some time" to mull the statehood claim before they took it to the U.N. General Assembly, where Washington has no veto.
Flag-waving Palestinians rallied in West Bank city squares to support the recourse to the United Nations.
A year after telling the General Assembly he hoped to see a Palestinian state born by now, the Obama said creating such a state alongside Israel remained his goal.
"But the question isn't the goal we seek -- the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades," he said.
"Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N ... Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians -- not us -- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem," Obama said.
However, it is the failure of 20 years of U.S.-brokered negotiations that has driven Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to take his quest for a state to the United Nations -- a ploy that could embarrass the United States by forcing it to protect its Israeli ally against the tide of world opinion.
Obama later met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and assured him of unwavering U.S. support.
In a separate meeting, Obama appealed to Abbas not to present U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with an application for full membership of the world body.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to hold separate talks with Abbas and Netanyahu in the evening.
Although Obama said he had set out a new basis for negotiations in May, the chances of reviving peace talks look bleak.
The two sides are far apart. The Palestinians are divided internally and Obama will not want to risk alienating Israel's powerful U.S. support base by pressing for Israeli concessions as he enters a tough battle for re-election next year.
In more evidence of Obama's domestic constraints, a U.S. Senate committee voted to prohibit aid to the Palestinians if they joined the United Nations.
France has grown frustrated at the lack of progress, saying that negotiations should be widened to include a more hands-on role for Europe given the impasse in U.S.-led efforts.
"Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters and begin negotiations," Sarkozy said. "The moment has come to build peace for Palestinian and Israeli children."
Sarkozy said negotiations should begin within one month, an agreement on borders and security should be clinched within six months and a definitive agreement reached within a year.
The Palestinians see statehood as opening the way for negotiations between equals. Israel says the Palestinian move aims at delegitimizing the Jewish state.
The drama at the United Nations is playing out as Arab uprisings are transforming the Middle Eastern landscape.
Obama pledged support for Arab democratic change, called for more U.N. sanctions against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and urged Iran and North Korea to meet their nuclear obligations -- twin standoffs that have eluded his efforts at resolution.
Iran freed two Americans held for spying, in what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called a compassionate gesture before he addresses the United Nations on Thursday.
The Security Council could delay action on Abbas' request, giving the mediating "Quartet" -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- more time to craft a declaration that could coax both sides back to the table.
South African President Jacob Zuma said his country, a Security Council member, fully supports Palestinian statehood.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said Obama's speech was a real disappointment.
"You would think that the Palestinians are occupying Israel," she said, accusing Obama of being selective when upholding principles of freedom and self-determination.
"They apply to every Arab individual, but when it comes to Palestinians suffering from an oppressive foreign military occupation, somehow ... these principles do not apply. They only apply when Arabs rebel against their own oppressive regime."
Whatever happens at the United Nations, Palestinians will remain under Israeli occupation and any nominal state would lack recognized borders or real independence and sovereignty.
It is a measure of their desperation that they are pressing on with an initiative that could incur financial retribution from Israel and the United States.
In his speech to the General Assembly, Ban asked governments to show solidarity in meeting "extraordinary challenges" for the world body, from climate change to peacekeeping.
"Without resources, we cannot deliver. Today, I ask governments that have traditionally borne the lion's share of the costs to not flag in their generosity," he declared, pledging to streamline U.N. budgets to "do more with less."
(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta, Andrew Quinn, Louis Charbonneau, Matt Spetalnick, Laura MacInnis, John Irish, Emmanuel Jarry, Daniel Bases and Patrick Worsnip)
Sep. 21, 2011
Obama urges vote against UN resolution for Palestinian statehood
n a speech made before the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. President Barack Obama reversed a position he made on the same podium a year ago, calling the Palestinian aspiration for statehood “a shortcut” and urged allies such as Canada to stand behind him.
In an address largely devoted to praise for the initiatives taken by Arab peoples in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and South Sudan to free themselves from oppressive regimes, Mr. Obama was forced to confront an all-too-literal manifestation of his 2010 speech: An attempt by the Palestinians to win statehood this week through a United Nations resolution.
Mr. Obama urged member nations Wednesday to vote against it. Faced with a U.S. electorate opposed to such a move, a slew of Republican opponents campaigning against the motion just outside the UN, and an Israeli ally utterly unwilling to halt its illegal settlements and recognize a neighbouring Palestine, Mr. Obama found himself pouring cold water on the very idea he had championed.
“There is no shortcut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades,” he said, referring to the UN statehood bid. “Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.”
This was the opposite of the message he had delivered to the same assembly only a year before, when the prospect of a quick Palestinian declaration of statehood, along the pre-1967 Mideast War borders and accompanied by a cessation of Israeli settlements and Palestinian attacks, was precisely the subject of a statement at the UN.
“Those of us who are friends of Israel,” he said on Sept. 22, 2010, “must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine.” It was a message he repeated even more boldly in May, with a speech that laid out the conditions for a two-state solution.
But the Palestinian bid to turn Mr. Obama’s vision into a fait accompli with a UN vote proved too difficult to fit into the fragile ecology of U.S. politics, where Republican presidential candidates have turned support for Israel into the chief foreign policy issue of the 2012 election. That left Mr. Obama to rally other countries, including Canada and Australia, into backing a “No” vote.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees that creating a Palestinian state requires ensuring Israel’s security, and that can come only through negotiation. Canada, led by Mr. Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, mounted a two-track diplomatic effort to stop or delay a vote in the UN Security Council, and if it comes to a vote in the broader General Assembly, to reduce the margin of victory for Palestinian recognition.
On Wednesday, it fell to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking shortly after Mr. Obama, to make the case for a compromise – in fact, it was almost a repeat of Mr. Obama’s 2010 words.
The French President suggested that the General Assembly vote on Friday to make Palestine an observer state – a status of symbolic value, and one that would not require a Security Council vote and would therefore pass immediately – and use this as the starting point for negotiations along a “precise timetable” he proposed, with borders to be agreed in six months and statehood finalized in a year.
“Why not envisage offering Palestine the status of United Nations observer state? This would be an important step forward,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “Most important, it would mean emerging from a state of immobility that favours only the extremists.”
In a speech later Wednesday afternoon to a more friendly crowd of Democrats at former president Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative meeting, Mr. Obama hinted at his frustration with the domestic politics that paralyzed the statehood bid.
“I do envy President Clinton, you know, because when you’re out of Washington, it turns out that you’re just dealing with people who are reasonable all the time, and … nobody’s looking to score points, nobody’s looking at the polls on any particular issue,” Mr. Obama said. “You’re just trying to solve problems.”
Obama urges UN to ignore Palestine
21 September, 2011
Speaking from the United Nations this morning, US President Barack Obama told world leaders that Palestinians deserve recognition. In his opinion, however, the UN shouldn’t have to offer it.
“One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine,”
Obama reminded the General Assembly this morning from New York.
“I believed then and I believe now that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own.”
Obama added, however, that that truce shouldn’t be a matter of concern for the UN. Rather, added the president, “a genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.”
“One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences,” said Obama. He added that he and others had become “frustrated” by the lack of progress on the peace talks, and said, “The question isn’t in the goal that we seek; the question is how do we reach that goal?”
According to both Obama and Israel, admitting Palestine to the United Nations would “shortcut” peace talks. As the opposing nations continue an ongoing stalemate, Obama is siding that they take matters into their own hands rather than bring their burden to the UN.
But while the United States may be in the minority as far as UN nations objecting Palestinian membership is concerned, Obama sided with Israelis this morning while attempting to avoid showcasing his obvious bias.
Obama said that the friendship between the United States and Israel is one that is “deep and endured” and that “America’s commitment to Israel security is unshakeable.” As a result, he says he cannot sponsor UN recognition for Palestine until the two states resolve their own differences.
Responding to his speech this morning, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Obama for standing with Israel and acknowledge that “We both agree that this is the only way to achieve peace.” Netanyahu was perhaps a bit more blunt with his words for Palestine, however, warning them that their attempt to get membership will not succeed, and warned his nation’s neighbors that “Responsible leaders will oppose this effort to shortcut peace negations.”
“Standing your ground,” Netanyahu told Obama, “Is a badge of honor.”
“I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor,” added the PM, who said he hopes that others will follow that example.
America and Israel don’t exactly hold the opinion of other UN members, however. The majority of UN-membership countries, totaling over 100, are in favor of Palestinian recognition. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas believes that admission will not be a shortcut, but rather a catalyst for negations. In a recent editorial published in The New York Times, Abbas wrote, “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one.”
News outlets panned to President Abbas throughout their coverage of this morning’s speech, often showing the leader with his hand pressed to his head. He is expected to meet with Obama later today. On Friday, the United Nations is expected to hear Abbas’ plea for membership.
“I think it has dawned on everybody that they cannot convince us not to go,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian delegation, reports The Hindu.“
In a speech from Ramallah recently, Abbas himself said, “We need to have full membership in the United Nations … we need a state, and we need a seat at the UN.”
Grass roots campaign David Swanson tells RT that he thinks the UN has always been flawed. "If you have a war-making state with troops in 177 nations and slicing up the globe into different commands and a military that could be cut by 80 percent and still be the world's largest – if you have that kind of influence, you're going to have wars get authorized."
According to Swanson, whether or not Obama is in the majority, the power that comes with the name of America resonates deep within the General Assembly. He added, however, that both the respect and power of the United States is diminishing in the eyes of the UN.
April 9, 2009
December 11, 2011
I think we have to view Obama actions , and politicized comments in
context. he is also one of the first presidents to link publicly , Israelian
actions and failure to reach an ' just settlement ' in the middle east equation,
is harming American diplomacy and interactions in the middle east, and the rest of the world. (paraphrase here)
September 4, 2009
Newt Gingrich tells it like it is: The Palestinian people are an "invented" people and are, in fact, simply Arabs. :thumbup:
Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man. - Albert Einstein
December 11, 2011
call me old fashioned , but I actually believe in rules of war. I'm against
torture, and don't think Palestinian unilateral actions justify
israeling illegal actions , adjudicated by international norms/values.(America included) apple pie before dinner is ok too. but, not always...