US tells PA it will block ‘Palestine’ statehood bid at UN

Palestinian negotiator explains that US officials say negotiations are the only option, sets conditions for peace talks.

erekat raise the roof REUTERS 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
erekat raise the roof REUTERS 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Obama administration has told the Palestinian Authority it will oppose PA plans to seek unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Thursday.
Erekat’s announcement came at the end of a visit to Washington, where he and other PA representatives held talks with officials that focused on the PA’s stated goal of gaining recognition for a state along the pre-1967 lines in September.
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“With regards to our intention to seek membership of a Palestinian state in the UN, the Americans consider it a non-option, and they said that they will oppose it,” Erekat said.
The PA leadership is scheduled to hold a meeting in Ramallah in the coming days to discuss its response to the US threat to foil its statehood bid.
A PA official told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the Palestinians were prepared to delay the UN move if they received guarantees that Israel would refrain from “creating new facts on the ground” in the coming weeks.
It was the first time a senior PA figure talked about the possibility of a postponement. His comments were seen to be the result of growing pressure by the US and several EU countries for the PA to abandon its statehood plan and return to the negotiating table with Israel.
Erekat said that during his talks in Washington, he requested that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declare an agreement in principle to the two-state solution on the basis of the pre- 1967 lines, and that he halt construction in the settlements.
Erekat said he also told US officials that the recent Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord between Fatah and Hamas was in the Palestinian “national interest” and the path to “achieving democracy and two states.”
Erekat said that he and Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA leadership in the West Bank, informed the Americans of the Palestinians’ intention to seek membership of a Palestinian state in the UN.
The purpose of such a move is to consolidate the idea of a two-state solution, Erekat said, adding that Palestinian and Arab committees were discussing the idea’s implications.
He described US opposition to the statehood bid as “illogical” and pointed out that the administration offered no alternative.
“The US [position] is that the peace process is the only option,” Erekat told the PA’s Al-Ayyam newspaper.
“Washington is making efforts to resume the negotiations on the basis of US President Barack Obama’s recent speech [at the State Department].
But they haven’t determined when and how they will do this.”
Erekat said he informed the Americans that unless Netanyahu accepted a two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines and fulfilled his obligations, the peace process would be a “waste of time.” He added that he presented the Americans with maps and documents that showed Israel was imposing facts on the ground in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Regarding the Fatah-Hamas unity deal, Erekat said the administration would judge the new Palestinian government according to its makeup and political program, and the extent of its commitment to the PLO’s agenda.
PA officials in Ramallah, meanwhile, denied a newspaper report about differences between senior Palestinian leaders over the UN statehood plan.
Nimer Hammad, political adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said the report was baseless. He added that the PA leadership was determined to go ahead with its plan to ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in September.