A top Palestinian envoy said she has tried in vain to persuade the administration of US President Barack Obama not to veto a Palestinian bid next month for UN membership of a state on the 1967 lines.
Hanan Ashrawi, who was sent to Washington by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said on Tuesday she had urged US officials this week to support, or at least not block, such a bid at the UN General Assembly in September.
US leaders should “not to use their veto against something which is part of their own policy and part of international law, which is the Palestinian right to independence and self-determination and statehood,” she said.
Obama has backed calls for a Palestinian state along the battle lines that existed prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with mutually agreed land swaps, but he has urged the Palestinians to press their case in direct negotiations with Israel instead of taking it to the UN.
The last round of peace talks stalled weeks after they were relaunched in Washington last September when Israel refused to renew a limited settlement freeze in occupied territory the Palestinians want for their future state.
Ashrawi said the US has already decided on a veto if the Palestinian Authority approaches the UN Security Council through a request to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to seek full membership in the world body.
“I wish it were a matter only of persuasion. There’s an adopted [US] position already and preconceived notions about going to the UN,” said Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
“I wish I could have changed their mind. They understood our reasons, because I explained that we are going in with a positive, constructive attitude. We’re trying to do something in a multilateral way, and a legal, human and a constructive way,” she said.
The talks were “really thorough and very candid, very open,” Ashrawi said.
She said US policy was subject to the “undue influence” of the pro-Israel lobby, even if the administration understands the Palestinian push for a state in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Israel is opposed to the two-state solution along the 1967 boundaries, arguing that it would leave the Jewish state with indefensible borders and cut off hundreds of thousands of West Bank settlers.
Ashrawi said the bid for UN membership was among many options the Palestinians were considering for next month, adding:” We are not limiting their choices.”.