Susan Rice: Palestinian statehood plans a 'mistaken calculation' (VIDEO)
A United Nations vote to approve Palestinian statehood later this month could work against the Palestinians' own interests, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Monday.
The Obama administration is turning up its rhetoric in opposition to a Palestinian plan to seek a United Nations vote for statehood later this month. The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice called the move a “mistaken calculation” and a “dangerous diversion” Monday.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Until now, the administration has declared the US would veto a vote on Palestinian statehood in the Security Council and has suggested any vote in the UN General Assembly would be largely symbolic. Admittance of a full-fledged member-state at the UN requires an affirmative Security Council vote.
But Ambassador Rice took a considerably tougher stance on the looming Palestinian action Monday, insisting that recognition of a Palestinian state in the 193-member General Assembly would actually work against the Palestinians’ own interests. Speaking at a Monitor breakfast with Washington reporters, Rice said the “observer-state status” the General Assembly is empowered to grant still confers certain rights associated with a state.
“That is why we say [this action] is not symbolic, it is consequential.” Rice said.
Observer-state status, which is the UN category the Vatican falls into for example, would give the Palestinians access to certain international treaties and institutions such as the International Criminal Court. But the US says that by pressing ahead unilaterally the Palestinians would poison the environment for restarting negotiations towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The reality is, the absolute only way to achieve our goal [of] two states living side by side … is through direct negotiations,” Rice said. “There is no short cut.”
The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, has not decided exactly what path of action it will take when the General Assembly convenes late this month in New York. Amid some indications the Palestinians could decide on a plan as early as Monday, Rice said the US has been working non-stop to dissuade them from seeking any UN vote.
But there is no question the Palestinians’ decision to give up on the moribund peace talks and turn to the UN for recognition has put the US, and President Obama in particular, in a negative light in the very region of the world Mr. Obama has sought to woo.
Beyond the Palestinians, Arabs and leaders across the Muslim world have seized upon the contrast between a US president who last year at the UN spoke of his goal of welcoming Palestine into the community of nations by this year’s General Assembly meeting, and a president who would now veto such an initiative.