Report: US Official Warns of Veto of Palestinian UN Bid

The United States’ response to Palestinian plans to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations took a much sterner tone this week, with an official warning of a veto at the UN Security Council and even a cut in aid, according to a Palestinian official. While the US has repeatedly expressed opposition or concern regarding a Palestinian statehood recognition bid at the United Nations, they had been cautious in publicly committing to a veto vote. However, behind the scenes, US Consul-General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein has warned they will do just that according to the WAFA Palestinian news agency.

Citing a statement from the office of key Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, WAFA reported that Rubinstein told Erekat the US would veto a Palestinian statehood recognition proposal at the powerful UN Security Council. The US is one of five nations with veto power on the Council, a UN body that does have legally binding authority to recognize a Palestinian state, unlike the UN General Assembly.

In light of the anticipated US veto at the Council, now reportedly confirmed, the Palestinians had been expected to turn to the General Assembly to seek a more symbolic vote on their UN status that wouldn’t legally recognize their state but could increase their options in a diplomatic offensive against Israel. However, Erekat said Rubinstein warned him against that step as well.

Saying that the US thinks it is better if the Palestinians reach an agreement with Israel through direct negotiations and feels a UN approach would be “useless and futile,” Erekat said Rubinstein told him the US Congress would cut financial aid to the Palestinians if they went to the General Assembly as planned.

The US Congress has threatened such a step before, but the warning from a US official seems to further indicate the likelihood of the move being fully carried out.

The US, Israel, Germany and others have expressed their opposition to a Palestinian UN bid. The Americans have repeatedly called such a step “unhelpful” to the peace process. Israel has expressed concern that a UN General Assembly vote would codify tougher Palestinian positions with their automatic majority at the UN and would therefore make compromise even less likely.

(By Staff, August 26, 2011)