Barack Obama 'will veto' Palestinian UN bid


President Obama says there can be "no short cut" to a lasting peace

Barack Obama has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he will veto his bid for UN membership, as he tried to persuade him to drop the plans.

But Mahmoud Abbas vowed to press ahead during a meeting with the US president, the White House said afterwards.

Mr Obama had told the UN General Assembly a Palestinian state could only be achieved through talks with Israel.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned a veto could spark another cycle of violence in the region.

Diplomatic efforts for Palestinian UN membership have intensified, with Mr Abbas preparing to submit a written application to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday.

Thousands of people rallied in the West Bank on Wednesday in support of the move.

'Badge of honour'

If Mr Ban approves the request, the Security Council will examine it and vote on it. In order to pass, it would need the backing of nine out of 15 council members, with no vetoes from the permanent members.

However, Mr Obama had indicated the US will use its veto, leaving Western diplomats trying to find ways to put off the voting process to buy more time.


The contradictions of American policy towards the Middle East have been on display.

In his speech, President Obama praised the way Arabs in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia had seized their freedom. But even with the prospect of the US vetoing the Palestinian UN bid, the Palestinians are claiming some victories - they've put the issue of their independence back on the international agenda.

The president's speech was as much about the politics of his own re-election bid next year as it was about the politics of making peace.

His leading Republican opponent has accused him of appeasing the Palestinians. Mr Obama said nothing that Israel and its friends would not like.

That may well be good for the Israeli government. It isn't necessarily good for Middle East peace.

And the US president made his position clear to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Abbas during meetings late on Wednesday.

"We would have to oppose any action at the UN Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing," White House national security council spokesman Ben Rhodes said after Mr Obama met Mr Abbas.

Mr Netanyahu told reporters that Mr Obama deserved a "badge of honour" for his defence of Israel.

However, senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath argued that Palestinian UN membership was "morally, legally and politically acceptable in every way".

Mr Sarkozy urged a compromise, suggesting the General Assembly give the Palestinians enhanced status as a non-member state to allow a clear timeline for talks - a month to start negotiations, six months to deal with borders and security and a year to finalise a "definitive agreement".

A vote on enhanced status - enjoyed by others such as the Vatican - would not require a Security Council recommendation but a simple majority in the General Assembly, where no veto is possible.

Failed talks

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said any UN vote on the issue was in any case "several weeks" away.

Mr Obama had earlier told the General Assembly: "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN.

"There is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades.

Palestinian UN membership bid

  • Palestinians currently have permanent observer entity status at the UN
  • They are represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)
  • Officials now want an upgrade so a state of Palestine has full member status at the UN
  • They seek recognition on 1967 borders - in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza
  • Enhanced observer member status could be an interim option

"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."

Palestinians say their bid for statehood has been inspired by the Arab Spring, and is the result of years of failed peace talks.

In the West Bank on Wednesday, schools and government offices were shut to allow for demonstrations backing the UN membership bid in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron.

While UN recognition would have largely symbolic value, the Palestinians argue it would strengthen their hand in peace talks.

Mr Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said after Mr Obama's speech: "The end of the Israeli occupation and a Palestinian state are the only path to peace.

"We will agree to return to the negotiations the minute that Israel agrees to end the settlements and the lines of 1967."

In his meeting with Mr Obama, Mr Netanyahu said direct negotiation was the only way to achieve a stable Middle East peace. The last round of talks broke down a year ago.

The "quartet" of US, European, Russian and UN mediators aims to give the two sides a year to reach a framework agreement, based on Mr Obama's vision of borders fashioned from Israel's pre-1967 boundary, with agreed land swaps.

Efforts are now reportedly under way to provide a basis for resumed peace negotiations, but work by mediators has yet to produce guidelines for the resumption of talks.


More on This Story

Israel and the Palestinians


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    Look forget what the president says. No president can pull out of supporting Israel until they lose their dependence on oil, or their dependence on Wall Street.

    This has been a fundamental core of US foreign policy since the war. Control of oil is their power base. The president is powerless to change this because he is not in power. Wall Street is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    The unbridled hypocrisy of the US is blinding. The US in it's double standards makes a mockery of it's constitution and everything it stands can no-longer claim to be a beacon of freedom and democracy as it denies these legitimate human rights to others.
    Shame on Obama and the US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    Wake me when Israel & the Palesrinians have made peace - until then anything else is academic.
    ...see you in another thousand years or so, and can I have breakfast in bed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    "Strange bed-fellowes", indeed: remember Good ol' Benjamin poking the President's eye, with gusto,whenever he dared refer to do with making real progress towards final settlement of this pus-ridden sore, which sits on the face of humanity itself, and is the most blatantly challenge to the credibility of the U.N, a perverse pennant if you will, to double-standards! Humanity? What humanity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    obamas statement is as like to say Let US & Iran to resolve their issues on their own with no other involvement.if a single UN resolution is not the solution then the resolution of independence of israel should be revived .

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    I fail to see why UN status for the Palestinian people is a bad thing. I had always thought that the UN was the forum for the peaceful resolution of international issues.

    Good luck to the Palestinian effort at the UN.

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    "you must be right
    You may not like it, but God brought them back. He talked about their return in the Bible more than 2,000 years previously. That’s also why no one can remove Israel."

    Bit of a used car salesman this God, then. Passing off a piece of semi-arid desert as a land of "milk and honey". If He exists perhaps He should make His intentions for the region a little clearer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    The Palestinians have been prisoners of their own leadership for so many years. Their leaders have rejected every move for peace and compromise ,and in the last 2 years have said 'No' to even starting any meaningful negotiations. They still wave Palestinian flags with the whole of Israel shown, and teach their children one day there will be no Israel. Thats even forgetting Gaza is ruled by Hamas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    Obama has to be the most spineless Democrat president in memory. The hypocrisy of US foreign policy beggar's belief.

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    "you must be right
    You may not like it, but God brought them back. He talked about their return in the Bible more than 2,000 years previously. That’s also why no one can remove Israel."

    You believe fairy stories and Bronze Age creation myths (not written down until much later) if you wish to but don't expect international borders to be determined by them in the modern age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    vetoing decision of US has shown it's foreign policy is not in it's own control but of israelis. Pity on american people who celebrate 4th july as they are still slaves of israeli system.Obama has supported palestine state but he is bound to veto either he will be the next kennedy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    "410. Will Holmes

    The first step to peace would be if all of us stopped using the word 'Zionist'. It gives the impression that ancient religious conflicts are relevant to world affairs."

    You mean like the reason the state was created in the first place...

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    Justice delayed is justice denied.

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Time for the Nople Prize committee to revoke Obamas peace prize. Next time they better wait and see what the person actually DOES and not what he SAYS he'll do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 437. must be right
    "You may not like it, but God brought them back. He talked about their return in the Bible more than 2,000 years previously."

    That's amazing! I mean, you're telling me they definitely DIDN'T read the book, then follow what it says? You're telling me it aaaalll happened separately?


  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Ultimately Palestine has to become a state otherwise the citizens will always be disenfranchised, have no life and there is no one as dangerous as one with nothing to lose. You let them create their own state, taking the reins of their own future and eventually they will turn to a more constructive future.

    There will be casualties in the meantime but this end is the only sustainable future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    I thought former President Bush said that Palestine should become its own country. With Obama saying it can only be acheived with talks with Israel, means it will never happen. Israel won't even post its borders. It is time for the US & the UN to force Israel to do what is right and let Palestine live.

  • Comment number 434.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    Just found this, I think the duplicity is apparent here. My colleague has just confirmed the translation... Palestinians say they want a two state solution BUT actually they dont...." they will never accept that" worrying... called Mahmud Abbas about his vision of Israel

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    If international community had the bottle to say no to US bullying since 1967,if UN had the bottle to implement international law we would not be in this situation.Lies and even more lies.My hope is $14.3 trillion debt and hopefully bully will be no more.When will Americans elect president who will put their interest at spot number 1.Obama should know about slavery, apparently not.Shame on you!


Page 6 of 28


More Middle East stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.