By John T. Bennett - 09/18/11 06:47 PM EDT
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, defying intense lobbying by the Obama administration, on Friday will petition the U.N. General Assembly for full membership.
Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian Authority’s top U.N. envoy, said Sunday that a formal request for membership will come Friday after Abbas addresses the body’s General Assembly.
“It will talk about the Palestinian state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said. “It will call for two-state solution, two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. And I believe it will also emphasize the need for negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues.”
The Obama administration opposes the move, saying negotiations are the lone path to the creation of a Palestinian state.
"There is no shortcut," Susan Rice, Washington’s ambassador to the U.N., told reporters Monday, noting passage of "pieces of paper" at the U.N. would not create a Palestinian nation "in practice or in theory."
"What will happen the day after?" she asked rhetorically. "What will change for the Palestinian people? The answer is nothing."
Seeking a U.N. statehood resolution before "fundamental issues" between the Palestinians and Israelis are ironed out would be "backwards" and have "very real world consequences," Rice said.
Areikat said Palestinian officials agree with the Obama administration’s stance on negotiations, and that U.N. membership would allow Israel to sit down with “an equal.”
Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington who appeared minutes later on the CNN show, accused the Palestinians of talking out of both sides of their collective mouth.
“Oh, the PLO representative says one thing, but President Abbas says a different thing,” Oren said. “In a New York Times op-ed in May, he said that he's going to the U.N. to get this state not to make peace but to challenge Israel's legitimacy in international arenas and to try to undermine the peace process.”
Oren accused Palestinian officials of wanting “all the territory without the peace,” noting they have “made a pact with Hamas.” That group is considered by most nations to be a terrorist organization that he said has lobbed missiles into Israel and called for its destruction and the “annihilation of the Jewish people.”
Still, Oren contended Israeli leaders are “prepared to go about a two-state solution.” But he warned “all that could be jeopardized if the Palestinians end-run the peace process and take the territory without the peace.”
Questions remain unanswered, Oren said, about “what kind of state is this going to be?”
“Is this going to be a state that's going to preserve peace? Is this going to be a state that's going to live in mutual respect and recognition with Israel?” Oren said. “Is this a state that's going to operate on the orders of Iran and bring more instability and terror to the region?”