A Palestinian bid to upgrade its UN status to a sovereign country would
jeopardize the peace process with Israel and make it difficult to get the two
sides to return to talks on a two-state solution, the US said on
But the diplomatic drive by Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas received support from Russia and Arab countries at a UN Security
Council debate on the Middle East situation.
Having failed last year to
win recognition of full statehood at the UN, Abbas said last month he would seek
a less-ambitious status upgrade at the world body to make it a non-member
observer state, like the Vatican.
The president of the 193- member UN
General Assembly, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, has said the issue will
likely be debated in mid-November, after the US elections. Washington argues
that a Palestinian state can only be created through direct
“Unilateral actions, including initiatives to grant Palestinians
non-member state observer status at the United Nations, would only jeopardize
the peace process and complicate efforts to return the parties to direct
negotiations,” US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, told the Security
“Any efforts to use international fora to prejudge finalstatus
issues that can only be resolved directly by the parties will neither improve
the daily lives of Palestinians nor foster the trust essential to make progress
towards a two state solution,” Rice said.
Israel’s envoy to the UN, Ron
Prosor, told the Security Council that there were no ‘shortcuts,” “quick fixes,”
or “easy solutions.”
“Peace must be negotiated,” he said. “It cannot be
imposed from the outside.”
Prosor added that those thinking it will be
possible to return to “business as usual” between Israel and the Palestinians if
the gambit is successful “are mistaken.”
“How can Israel be expected to
abide by the same agreements that the Palestinian leadership ignores whenever it
is convenient?” Prosor said, arguing that the Palestinian bid is a clear breach
of the Oslo accords.
“How could anyone expect the Israeli public to trust
this Palestinian leadership when it signs future agreements?” Prosor, who dubbed
the Palestinian move a “march of folly,” decried that the Palestinians were
opting for unilateralism rather than direct negotiations.
He also took
the international community to task for saying nothing when the Palestinians
walked away from a comprehensive proposal Israel put on the table at talks in
Amman in April.
“Every member state that lends it hand to supporting
Palestinian unilateralism at the UN will be responsible for the grave
consequences that follow,” Prosor warned. “Symbolic declarations will change
nothing on the ground. They will only raise expectations that cannot be met.
This is a recipe for instability and, potentially, violence.”
Cameron: Talks the only path to statehood
British Prime Minister David Cameron, at a speech in London to the United Jewish
Israel Appeal, said he wanted to tell Abbas something “very clearly: There is no
path to statehood except through talks with Israel.”
“So if the
Palestinian plan is simply posturing with the UN rather than negotiating with
Israel, Britain will never support it,” he said. Cameron also said that Britain
will “never support anyone who sponsors a football tournament named after a
suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant. We will not tolerate
incitement to terrorism.”
Cameron noted that it has been seven years
since the Palestinians voted for a PA president and six years since the last
“The Palestinian leadership needs to refresh its
mandate and show it has the consent of its people, starting with municipal
elections later this month,” he said. “And it needs to resolve the situation in
Gaza and restore to Palestinians a unified leadership able to deliver peaceful
resolution of the conflict with Israel.”
Turning to Israel, he said that
Israel needed a real drive to improve life for ordinary
“That means more support for economic development in the
West Bank, relaxing restrictions on Gaza, ending the demolition of Palestinian
homes, and yes, it means meeting Israel’s obligations under the roadmap and
under international law to halt settlement building,” he said. “Britain’s
position will not change. Settlements beyond the green line are
Russia, Arab states throw weight behind gambit
Egypt’s UN Ambassador Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil, speaking to the
council on behalf of the Arab nations, said it fully supported the Palestinian
“We expect the General Assembly to adopt a resolution during its
current session to upgrade the status of Palestine to become a ‘non-member
observer state,’ as a first step towards reaching full membership,” he
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: “We believe that the
initiative to gain broad international recognition for Palestinian
complements efforts to achieve a negotiated solution to the
conflict with Israel rather than serve as an alternative.
“In no case
should they be used by Israel to tighten the screws in the occupied territories
or exert any other pressure on the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
Palestinians won admission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization in October last year, a move that prompted the US to cut
off funding to the UN agency.
A 1990s US law prohibits US funding to any
UN organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have
“internationally recognized attributes” of statehood.