News / Middle East

Palestinian Negotiator Wants Obama to Back Statehood If Talks Fail

A Palestinian official says he expects the Obama administration to support a recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations, if peace talks do not resume with Israel. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat spoke Thursday in Washington at a conference that examined changes in the Middle East.

Palestinian leaders say they are considering asking the United Nations to recognize an independent Palestinian state, following Israel's resumption of settlement building in east Jerusalem.

Erekat says he expects U.S. President Barack Obama to support the idea because of his remarks at the U.N. in September. In a speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Obama said an independent state of Palestine should be able to join the world body next year.

Erekat told a conference at the Middle East Institute that he did not discuss statehood in a meeting earlier in the day with Middle East envoy George Mitchell and other U.S. officials. "I did not talk about it, but I hope the United States of America, when we go to the Security Council to seek a full membership for the State of Palestine, will not oppose this," he said.  

At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States disapproves of unilateral steps by the Palestinians or Israel outside of the peace process.

According to Erekat, U.S. officials told him they need two to three weeks to get the talks going again. Erekat said that to restart the talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to reinstate a settlement construction freeze that expired in September. "The choice is his, settlements or peace. He cannot have both," Erekat said.  

The Palestinian negotiator dismissed the notion that Republican Party gains in Tuesday's U.S. midterm elections would change Washington's stance in the peace process. He noted that Republican presidents have been involved in efforts for Palestinian statehood.  "The first president to recognize the state of Palestine in a two state solution was President [George W.] Bush," he said.  

Some analysts expect that conservative Republicans will pressure the Obama administration to focus more on strengthening the U.S. economy than on some foreign policy issues like Israel and the Palestinians.

Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli negotiator and ambassador to Washington during the 1990s, says that is one of two likely scenarios for President Obama. "The other is that he would take an attitude of 'I may or may not be reelected.  But I need to leave my mark on history, and the Arab-Israeli peace process is one such place,' which would lead to deeper engagement.  And I hope this is the route that he will take," he said.

Although relatively little progress was made in the currently-suspended Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the speakers at the conference said the Middle East is going through a fundamental transformation.

Political scientist Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland said the Iraq war and other post-Cold War developments are creating a tripolar region that excludes Arab capitals. "Even Arab elites feel that the relative clout of Arab states has diminished to the benefit of non-Arab states Israel, Turkey and Iran," Telhami said.

Telhami said he has conducted public opinion surveys asking Arabs to name their heroes and that Arab leaders do not end up in first place. This year, he said, the winner was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, followed by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid