Entries in Palestine (4)


Obama Addresses the UN, Maintains Opposition to Palestinian Bid

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, President Obama tried to answer critics who suggest he helped pave the way towards the current diplomatic kerfuffle over the pending UN resolution that would prematurely, in the president’s view, make Palestine a sovereign state and member of the UN.

The president cautioned United Nations members that peace will only come “if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and fears. …And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.”

The president made clear his opposition to the expected UN Security Council resolution. For weeks, American diplomats have been furiously lobbying the Palestinians to drop their bid, which the U.S. has publicly stated it will veto.

Granting Palestine membership in the United Nations as a sovereign state before any peace treaty with Israel has been worked out, the U.S. believes, could be a diplomatic hornet’s nest, with Israel all of a sudden occupying a sovereign nation, the Palestinians given access to the International Criminal Court and the Human Rights Council, and any future peace negotiations thrown into disarray.

The U.S. also does not want to be put into the position of vetoing the resolution, which could inflame passions in the region and throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds.

The president did not renew his call for Israel to return to its 1967 borders with mutually agreed upon land swaps, a call he made in May that angered Israeli officials. Wednesday Mr. Obama said that “ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.”

The president offered a detailed and passionate defense of Israel’s “very real security concerns,” invoking the Holocaust and noting that the Jewish state “is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it,” that its “citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses” and that Israeli children “come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them.”

“These are facts!” the president said, deviating a bit from his prepared text. “They cannot be denied.”

The president addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after heralding successes in South Sudan, Tunisia, the Ivory Coast, Libya, and Egypt.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Campaign Adviser: Perry Proposal 'Endangers' Israel’s Security

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Obama 2012 campaign lashed back at Texas Gov. Rick Perry after the Republican frontrunner Tuesday blamed the Palestinian statehood crisis playing out at the United Nations on the president.

Perry, campaigning in New York City, said the world was “at this very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, and arrogant, misguided and dangerous.  The Obama policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a very dangerous insult.”

Asked for a response, Obama campaign adviser and former Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla, said, “Apparently Gov. Perry needs to do some homework on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and particularly on Israeli security needs.  His speech was riddled with misunderstandings of the conflict and with falsehoods about President Obama’s superb record on Israel.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, and President Peres have all praised President Obama publicly for his work on Israel’s behalf and unprecedented US-Israeli security cooperation under Obama’s leadership.  With all due respect to Gov. Perry, what does he know about Israel’s interests that Netanyahu, Barak, and Peres dont know?”

Wexler, currently the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, charged that “Perry misrepresented Obama’s statements on the 1967 lines -- as Netanyahu and Barak have both affirmed, the president said that Israel should not have to return to those lines.  President Obama has consistently embraced the principles in support of Israel that Gov. Perry outlined in his speech -- publicly calling for the disarming of Hamas, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland of the Jewish people, and the direct negotiations to resolve the conflict.  In fact, it is ironic that Perry chooses this week to level these unfounded criticisms at the president -- since President Obama and his administration have been working tirelessly to head off the Palestinian’s unilateral statehood declaration at the U.N. this week.”

Wexler continued, saying that “Perry’s demand that the U.S. defund the Palestinian Authority would effectively dismantle the Palestinian security forces, forces that America built and trained -- which would significantly endanger Israel security and the safety of ordinary Israelis.  Perry’s demand is also in direct contradiction with an Israeli report that defunding the PA would not be in Israel’s interests.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Meet with Israeli, Palestinian Leaders; Address United Nations

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With Palestine’s bid for statehood at the United Nations looming, President Obama will hold separate meetings Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

While the U.S. and its allies had been scrambling to convince Abbas to abandon his bid for recognition in the United Nations Security Council on Friday, they have now pivoted instead to mitigating its effect and establishing a path back toward negotiations with Israel.

The issue is just one of the many that President Obama will tackle during his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday morning.

“Right now, we could not be clearer that we have for some time now opposed Palestinian efforts to pursue statehood on a unilateral basis through the United Nations.  And it’s the United States that is working very aggressively to make that case and to make that clear to all the parties involved,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, peace is going to have to be made between the parties; that it can’t be imposed from the outside, that it can’t be accomplished through actions at the United Nations,” he said.

Obama is also expected to address the ongoing democratic transitions around the world, including the revolutions in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, the nonproliferation agenda and the drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama’s UNGA address is just his first speech of the day.  The president will also deliver remarks Wednesday afternoon at the Clinton Global Initiative.

In addition to Abbas and Netanyahu, the president will also meet Wednesday with Prime Minister Noda of Japan, UNGA President Al-Nasser, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Sarkozy.

Finally, the president and first lady will attend a UNGA reception in the evening before returning to the White House late Wednesday night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bid for U.N. Recognition Weighs Heavily on Obama

Jim Ballard/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As President Obama gets ready to address the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, the Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition weighs heavily over this week’s proceedings. The White House and its allies are scrambling to prevent a showdown, and critics, including the two leading Republican presidential candidates, say the Palestinian quest for statehood highlights Obama’s failed Middle East peace strategy.  

Last year, Obama said in his address to the U.N. General Assembly that, working together, a peace agreement might be possible by the time of the next meeting. “We can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life. We can do that…or, we can say that this time will be different,” Obama said in September 2010. “This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations – an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.”

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is readying to bring his bid for statehood to the U.N. Friday, a move the U.S. strongly rejects and has vowed to veto.

“The only way to resolve the issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis and to ultimately create a Palestinian state is through direct negotiations. The Palestinians will not and cannot achieve statehood through a declaration at the United Nations,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters last week.

In the meantime, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her allies are engaged in an intensive diplomatic negotiations to present an alternative plan that would allow for the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to resume.

“We are engaged in extremely intensive ongoing diplomacy, reaching out to not only the parties but to all of the people who are here for the U.N. General Assembly.  And we continue to believe and are pressing the point that the only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations.  And no matter what does or doesn’t happen this week, it will not produce the kind of outcome that everyone is hoping for.  So we’re going to stay very much engaged and focused,” Clinton said Monday.

While President Obama is scheduled to meet one-on-one with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu this week, there are no plans for him to meet with Abbas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio