US Still Opposed to Palestinian UN Bid

The United States has reiterated its opposition to the Palestinians unilaterally going to the United Nations less than one month before that is set to happen, even as they continue to deny reports saying a diplomat warned the Palestinians of serious consequences should they move forward. A State Department spokesman, speaking on background with The Mideast Update by email on Thursday, said that “we continue to strongly oppose one-sided actions at the United Nations and have made that clear in our discussions with both sides.”

The US has not yet come out publicly and explicitly promised a veto of a Palestinian measure in the powerful UN Security Council, which does have legally binding power in the statehood matter. However, the US has repeatedly said they do not see that the UN-route will lead to peace.

Said the State Department spokesman, “President [Barack] Obama has made clear that initiatives through the UN will not bring about the two-state solution and enduring peace, which both the parties and the US seek.  There is no substitute for serious and substantive negotiations between the parties, and that remains our focus.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration again denied comments from a US diplomat in which the official reportedly warned the Palestinians that the US Congress would take steps against the Palestinians if they went to the UN, such as a possible cut to financial aid. The report also said the diplomat warned of a US veto of a Palestinian bid.

The US spokesman said the report, which was carried by the WAFA Palestinian news agency and other news groups, “is not an accurate portrayal of the U.S. position.” The spokesman did not clarify if the veto or funding cut potential were themselves untrue, or merely the way in which they were presented in the news report.

“President Obama laid out goals and principles for negotiations and our intention is to continue to work with the parties on that basis,” said the spokesman. “It’s the only realistic way forward for both parties to achieve their goals.”

When asked what the US diplomat did say to the Palestinians, the spokesman said they cannot divulge private diplomatic discussions. “We will not speculate on different scenarios the Palestinians might propose in September or how we might react to them.”

Noting that “only through direct negotiations can Palestinian statehood and self-determination realistically be achieved,” the US spokesman highlighted their efforts to restart those talks.

“We continue to consult closely and regularly with both the Israeli and Palestinian governments to restore bilateral negotiations.”

Israel has repeatedly called for the renewal of peace talks, while expressing serious concerns that a UN resolution would codify hardline Palestinian positions due to their “automatic majority” at the UN. According to Israel, such a scenario would make Palestinian compromise in the peace process, both now and in the future, even less likely.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 2, 2011)