Oren: PA's unilateralism may cost them post-Oslo gains

Envoy to US says continuation of statehood bid will be tragic for the Palestinians and a setback for the peace process.

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September 27, 2011 07:33
3 minute read.
ISRAEL’S AMBASSADOR to the United States Michael O

Oren 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Palestinians could lose the achievements of the last 15 years if they continue to pursue their unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, as he sat in the lobby of a New York hotel.

Like many Israeli politicians and diplomats, he was wrapping up a visit to New York to lobby against a bid by Palestinians to bypass a negotiated peace.

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“There is a better understanding now of the type of threats that a unilaterally-declared state poses, not just to Israel, but to the Palestinians themselves,” he said.

It’s understood that unilateral moves would harm the Palestinians’ aspiration to statehood, he said. It would jeopardize agreements that Israel and the United States have with the PA, added Oren.

Should the Palestinians continue with their unilateral bid, “they stand to lose some of the substantive gains they have achieved over the last 15 years, which would be a tragedy for the Palestinians and a setback for the peace process,” Oren said.

Oren urges Palestinians to resume peace talks

Like most Israeli diplomats and politicians these days, he has one message for the Palestinians: return to the negotiating table.

Palestinians have refused to talk with Israel unless it halts settlement construction and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.

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'We won't renew settlement freeze to lure PA to talks'Oren said that Israel is “committed to sitting face-to-face anywhere – in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, any place – with the Palestinian leadership.”

There are no pre-conditions set on these talks and that all issues: refugees, security, borders and Jerusalem were open to negotiations, he said.

As a result, he said, Israel viewed favorably the new Quartet proposal that called for a new round of talks to end by December 2012.

“We were pleased to see that the Quartet has called for an immediate return of the Palestinians to the negotiating table with us, without pre-conditions,” said Oren.

But he said it was his understanding that the Palestinians were unlikely to accept the Quartet proposal.

Israel, he said, was waiting to see if the Palestinians planned to continue with their bid for UN membership, which must first pass the Security Council. The initial debate on the matter was due to begin Monday, after press time.

'US has drawn closer to Israel'

The US and other like-minded nations are working to prevent the Security Council from approving the Palestinian request, he said.

“The US is working tirelessly to generate a blocking front in the Security Council. The US is committed to stopping this resolution,” he said, adding, “It will not pass.”

“The US, as Israel does, emphasizes that there is no alternative to direct negotiations for a two-state solution,” he said.

The United States, Oren said, has drawn closer to Israel.

“The US and Israel are more closely coordinated now than they have been at any time in the last two years, or more,” he said.

“We see things very much eye-to- eye on how to move forward.”

On Wednesday, when US President Barack Obama addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, he spoke “quite strongly,” said Oren, in support of Israel and its security needs.

“The most important thing was the strong emphasis placed on the connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel,” said Oren.

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