The Palestinian push for statehood at the United Nations is an “unwise and diversionary gambit,” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. warned Wednesday.
Susan Rice said on CBS that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should drop his bid for recognition, arguing “there is no shortcut to statehood” and predicting that he will not get the votes needed to succeed.
“Our view is not that Palestinians shouldn’t have a state, indeed they should, living side-by-side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel, but it can only happen through negotiations,” Rice said.
But as Rice issued her warning to the Palestinians, Maen Areikat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the United States, insisted that the Obama administration would be mistaken to underestimate the Palestinians’ resolve.
“Let me tell you something – this is not a tactical ploy. We are not bluffing; we are not doing this only for symbolic reasons,” Areikat said on MSNBC.
“For us, the issue is to become free. This is the issue for us. We are not looking for economic freedom – we are looking for political freedom. We want to be free from an occupation that has control over every aspect of our lives,” he added.
The ambassador offered harsh criticism for President Barack Obama’s role in the Middle East peace process, accusing his administration of being all talk and no action.
“Yes, we have seen a lot of good statements from President Obama and the administration,” Areikat said. “Unfortunately, when the time came for the administration to use its leverage with Israel, they backed down and they didn’t hold Israel accountable like they promised us to do.”
Areikat said the Palestinians had waited too long for their state to be welcomed as a new member of the U.N., and argued that they shouldn’t be blamed for feeling frustrated by the lack of progress in the peace process and bringing their bid for statehood to the UN.
But as for whether Palestinians will get the necessary nine votes needed for a quorum at the 15-member Security Counsel for the statehood issue to be taken up, Areikat said: “It’s still too early for us to tell you.”
“Not having the nine votes means that the U.S. is putting pressure on these member states not to cast a vote in favor of Palestinians request be considered,” he said. “Either way, if the U.S. casts a negative vote, which is a veto, or if they exert pressure on these countries not to create a quorum needed, we would view it as pressure by the United States to block our admission at the United Nations.”
The White House announced Tuesday that Obama will meet with Abbas in New York City Wednesday evening. Obama is also set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu at 11 a.m.
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