News / Middle East

Obama: Palestinian Statehood Bid a 'Distraction'

U.S. President Barack Obama says he would "object very strongly" to a possible push for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, saying such a move would be counterproductive.

President Obama reiterated Monday that the U.S. would use its veto to stop the motion for full Palestinian statehood if it reaches the Security Council next week at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.  He called the proposal a "distraction" that would not solve problems that can only be addressed through negotiations.

It remains unclear whether Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will seek full recognition from the Security Council as a member state of the U.N., or instead seek "non-member status," which only requires a simple majority from the 193-member General Assembly.

Palestinians currently hold observer status at the world body.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland argued Monday that neither course of action would lead to a "stable, secure state," saying that Palestinians and Israelis "have to do this through negotiations."

Arab League members are meeting in Cairo this week to discuss the statehood bid. At the start of the meeting on Monday, Qatar's prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said Arab countries had agreed to apply to the U.N. for a "full-fledged" Palestinian state.

After meeting with Arab leaders, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU had not "formulated a position" because Palestinians had not yet put a resolution on the table.

Last week, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a return to negotiations, saying that an "independent, sovereign" Palestinian state was "long overdue."

Palestinians say they are seeking U.N. recognition after years of negotiations failed to deliver an independent Palestinian state. President Abbas backed out of U.S.-led negotiations last year, saying Palestinians object to continued construction of Israeli settlements on land they want for a future state.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

 

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