Report: Senior Democrat failed to obtain Obama commitment to veto Palestinian state at UN

Politico reports that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid asked the White House to make commitment after Netanyahu won re-election in March and after Iran nuclear deal reached in July.

October 1, 2015 17:56
1 minute read.
obama synagogue

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on Jewish American History Month at the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue in Washington May 22, 2015. . (photo credit: REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNST)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid twice this year reportedly approached White House chief of staff Denis McDonough seeking a public commitment from President Barack Obama that he would veto any UN resolution calling for an independent Palestinian state, but on both occasions Obama did nothing, according to a report in Politico.

Politico said its report was confirmed by White House officials and Senate aides. 

According to the US news outlet, Reid's requests came as he was trying to line up Democratic support for the Iran nuclear agreement reached on July 14 and "give nervous Democrats cover to back the deal."  

But this was not the first time that Reid approached the White House requesting that it back Israel at the UN and failed to receive his sought after response.

In March, the Obama administration indicated that it was reconsidering its historically staunch support of Israel at the United Nations and had not automatically accepted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement to the American media affirming his support of two states for two peoples after pre-election comments that appeared to reject it. 

Obama administration officials hinted broadly in March that the US may – for the first time – back a UN Security Council resolution laying down the principles for a two-state solution, or support a Palestinian bid to join the UN as a full member. The Palestinians have sought a path to statehood outside negotiations with Israel through the UN, but longstanding US policy has been to oppose unilateral actions by either side.

At this time, Reid first approached McDonough and asked that the president reverse his position.

McDonough said the White House “would look into it,” but took no action, a source close to the issue told Politico.

Reid’s office declined to comment on the report.

According to Politico, Obama administration officials said that the president's decision not to go public with the administration’s position "isn’t meant to exert leverage over Netanyahu, as something to trade to get him back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians."

The officials also said that the administration is "not holding out on a presidential declaration to preserve a future olive branch to improve a relationship between Washington and Jerusalem."

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