U.S. says Palestinian status bid jeopardizes peace process

UNITED NATIONS Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:32pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A Palestinian bid to upgrade its U.N. status to a sovereign country would jeopardize the peace process with Israel and make it difficult to get the two sides to return to talks on a two-state solution, the United States said on Monday.

Having failed last year to win recognition of full statehood at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said last month he would seek a less-ambitious status upgrade at the world body to make it a "non-member state" like the Vatican.

The president of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, has said the issue will likely be debated in mid-November, after the U.S. election. Washington argues a Palestinian state can only be created through direct talks.

"Unilateral actions, including initiatives to grant Palestinians non-member state observer status at the United Nations, would only jeopardize the peace process and complicate efforts to return the parties to direct negotiations," the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told the U.N. Security Council during a debate on the Middle East situation.

There have been no direct Palestinian talks with Israel on peace since 2010, when the Palestinians refused to resume negotiations unless the Israeli government suspended settlement building in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"Any efforts to use international fora to prejudge final status issues that can only be resolved directly by the parties will neither improve the daily lives of Palestinians nor foster the trust essential to make progress towards a two state solution," Rice said.

The Palestinians' current U.N. status is an "observer entity." If Abbas wins, that would change to "observer state."

JOINING INTERNATIONAL BODIES

Being registered as a state rather than an entity would mean the Palestinians could join bodies such as the International Criminal Court and file complaints against Israel for its continued occupation of land it seized in the 1967 war.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin voiced support for the Palestinian drive.

"We believe that the initiative to gain broad international recognition for Palestinian statehood ... complements efforts to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict with Israel rather than serve as an alternative," Churkin told the Security Council.

"In no case should they be used by Israel to tighten the screws in the occupied territories or exert any other pressure on the Palestinian authority," he said.

The Palestinians won admission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in October last year, a move that prompted the United States to cut off funding to the U.N. agency.

A 1990s U.S. law prohibits U.S. funding to any U.N. organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have "internationally recognized attributes" of statehood.

The law could also prohibit American funding for any other U.N. organization that grants Palestinians full membership status, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, which among other things monitors Iran's nuclear program.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month that the two-state solution was the only sustainable option for peace. But he said the continued growth of Israeli settlements meant that "the door may be closing, for good."

The so-called two-state solution involves the creation of a state of Palestine to exist peacefully alongside Israel.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
1. Israel has no intention whatsoever of restarting the peace process.
2. Israel’s Likud party charter has always been to ethnically cleanse the whole of former Palestine by the ‘transfer’ of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
3. Israel’s illegal settlement policy is to abort the establishment of a Palestinian state.
4. Israel is in gross breach of the 4th Geneva Convention on Human rights
5. Israeli settlements have been declared illegal by both the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.
6. Israel does NOT want peace.
7. Israel has placed itself outside of the community of democratic states.
8. Israel still holds thousands of political prisoners without trial
9. Israel still uses state sponsored assassination to remove its enemies
10. Israel, under this government, is a rogue state that does not understand the meaning of either human rights or democracy.

Oct 15, 2012 2:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
sadegibs wrote:
The Palestinian Authority is in a tricky spot: As long as rockets continue to be fired at the hands of their Gazan counterparts, who seem to be eternally destined to spoil the peace process, the process will continue to unravel. Also, despite being a non-violent action, it is clear that approaching the UN to request a status change is also an act of those trying to spoil the peace process.

The consequences of unilateral action are risky and unpredictable to say the least, and will only amplify an already volatile peace process – I truly believe that in this case the risks would outweigh the rewards.

Oct 17, 2012 8:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.