(photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)
With the opening of the UN General Assembly on September 20 just a week away,
Israeli officials spoke pessimistically on Monday of chances to fend off a
Palestinian Authority move to the UN, despite a flurry of last minute diplomatic
activity aimed at seeing if this were still possible.
Minister Guido Westerwelle, who met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on
Sunday, met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday. Netanyahu is also
scheduled to meet with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, scheduled to
arrive in Israel on Tuesday evening from Egypt, on Wednesday.
Netanyahu again calls for talks without conditions
Abbas: Israel’s ‘intransigence’ forcing us to the UN
Westerwelle’s meeting with Abbas, the German Foreign Ministry put out a
statement saying Westerwelle “stressed that Germany, as before, supports the aim
of a viable Palestinian state as a result of negotiations. However, steps
that risk to make any progress toward a two-state-solution more difficult should
be avoided. With a view to a possible Palestinian request to the UN, the
decisive question was what would serve the peace process, and what would hamper
“The diplomatic efforts are ongoing,” one Israeli official said
after Netanyahu met the German foreign minister, “though the chances are slim of
getting the Palestinians to pull back and reach some sort of diplomatic solution
that would make going to the UN in September unnecessary.”
Ministry officials said France was leading efforts inside Europe to get the
27-member EU to vote as one block on the Palestinian issue, and has been arguing
that a PA agreement to not take the independence bid to the UN Security Council,
but only to the UN General Assembly where it would ask for non-member UN status
similar to the Vatican, should be seen as a “Palestinian compromise” and
Western diplomatic officials said that Europe was not involved
– as a way of ensuring European support – in writing the resolution with the
Palestinians that will be brought to the UN, but that the Palestinians were well
aware of what formulations the EU would be able to support as a
Nevertheless, one Israeli official said that Jerusalem has not
gained any indication that the Palestinians will present the UN with a “watered
down” resolution in order to get the Europeans on board, but rather that they
were still leaning toward a maximalist resolution.
The officials said
Israel had a “number of options” regarding how to respond, but would not reveal
them until the time comes, in order to retain maximum maneuverability and see
how things develop.
Ashton, meanwhile, said in Cairo following a meeting
with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr that “there is no resolution on
the table yet, so there is no [EU] position. What we’re very clear about from
the European Union is that the way forward is negotiations. We want to see a
just and fair settlement.
We want to see the people of Palestine and the
people of Israel living side by side, in peace and security.”
And even as
Europeans continued to debate the issue among themselves, Russia’s envoy to the
UN was quoted by Interfax as saying on Monday that Russia will vote in favor of
declaring a Palestinian state at the United Nations.
“We will, of course,
be voting for any of the Palestinians’ proposals,” Vitaly Churkin said,
according to AFP.
“But I must say that we are not pushing them into it.
We are saying that ‘whatever you decide to do, we will support you,’” he
Russia had previously expressed support for the Palestinian
statehood bid, but had not stated explicitly that it would vote in favor of UN
recognition of a Palestinian state. China came out in support of the bid last
Israeli officials said that while they were not surprised by the
decision, Churkin’s comment that Russia would support whatever the Palestinians
decided reflected both the sentiment among the Palestinian’s automatic majority
in the UN, and was indicative of one of the problems Israel faced in trying to
move forward with the Palestinians.
If the Palestinians get the sense
that the world will support whatever they put forward, then why should they
negotiate with Israel? one official asked.