News / Middle East

Palestinian Negotiator Wants Obama to Back Statehood If Talks Fail

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid