US against unilateral Palestinian statehood bid


The United States voiced opposition Monday to unilateral Palestinian moves to seek recognition for an independent state, saying negotiations with Israel were the best way forward.

A State Department spokesman reiterated US commitment to a future Palestinian state but poured cold water on an initiative to ask the United Nations Security Council to recognize a state unilaterally.

"We support the creation of a Palestinian state that is contiguous.... We are convinced that has to be achieved through negotiations between two parties," said spokesman Ian Kelly.

On Sunday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said they would "go to the UN Security Council to ask for recognition of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and with June 1967 borders."

This in turn drew a warning from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that: "Any unilateral action will undo the framework of past accords and lead to unilateral actions from Israel."

Kelly said he was not aware the Palestinians had sought American support for their initiative and refused to be drawn on whether the US, if it had to, would veto any bid at the Security Council.

"I think that the thing we have to do is get the two parties to sit down and that is what we're putting all of our efforts behind," he said.

US Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said Washington was likely to veto such a proposal, which he said would be "a waste of time.

"I hope and presume that the United States would veto such an attempt when and if it ever came to the Security Council," he told a press conference in Jerusalem.

The move for UN recognition is the latest in a series of options the Palestinians have warned they could take if the Middle East peace process remained stalled.

Others include unilaterally declaring independence, asking the UN to determine final borders of their promised state, dissolving the Palestinian Authority and seeking equal rights within Israel.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has so far been unable to convince Israelis and Palestinians to resume their peace talks amid deep disagreements on the issue of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The Palestinians insist on a freeze of all settlement activity before talks restart, while Israel is offering a temporary and limited ease on construction, saying the issue will be resolved during the negotiations.

Any state recognition bid would have to wait until a ministerial meeting of the Arab League before it could be proposed at the UN Security Council, the league's permanent observer to the UN Yahya Mahmassani told AFP on Monday.