The Palestinians vowed on Wednesday to push ahead with plans to seek UN backing as long as talks are off the agenda, prompting US President Barack Obama to warn it would be a “mistake.”
“I strongly believe for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake,” Obama said in London at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Since the collapse of direct peace talks late last year, the Palestinian leadership has been pursuing a strategy aimed at securing UN recognition of their promised state on 1967 borders, drawing sharp criticism from Israel and Washington.
“The only way we are going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace,” Obama said, warning that peace would only work if both sides agreed to a “wrenching compromise.”
Obama’s remarks came after a week of high-level debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has left the prospects of a revival of peace talks more remote than ever.
Earlier on Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said that unless there was a fresh round of peace negotiations, the Palestinians would head to the UN in September in the hope of being accepted as a full member of the world body.
“Our first choice is negotiations, but if there is no progress before September, we will go to the United Nations,” he said in remarks which came a day after Netanyahu had outlined his views on a peace deal with the Palestinians in a speech to the US Congress.