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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs