U.S. rallies opposition to Palestinian statehood bid

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The U.S. is engaged in an all-out effort to get other states to join its opposition to the planned Palestinian bid for statehood recognition, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

Ambassador Susan E. Rice warned that countries voting for any Palestinian resolution have the “responsibility to own the consequences of their vote.”

The U.S. has announced its intention to veto the resolution next week if it comes before the Security Council, but the Palestinians are widely expected to receive an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly, which opens Thursday.

“The United States, I, [and] others have been working very energetically to talk to member states of all sorts about the real-world consequences of this kind of a vote,” Ms. Rice told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington.

“As [U.N.] member states … they have a responsibility to own the consequences of their vote,” she said, calling the U.N. gambit a “dangerous diversion on the path toward a negotiated settlement.”

The U.S. and Israel have sought to minimize the political significance of a U.N. vote, arguing to fence-sitting countries that negotiations remain the only viable path to a two-state solution.

Most countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America already have recognized a Palestinian state, and the Israelis and the Palestinians have focused their lobbying on Europe, where efforts to forge a unified position have faltered.

Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and most former Soviet bloc nations are expected to oppose the resolution. Spain, Portugal, Belgium and most Scandinavian countries are likely to support it.

Britain and France have said that their votes will depend on the resolution’s text, which the Palestinians have not yet submitted.

It remains unclear whether the Palestinians will seek full membership through the Security Council or ask the General Assembly to grant them “enhanced observer” status along the lines of what the Vatican enjoys - a designation that would allow them to join U.N. committees.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official speculated that the Palestinians might “water down” their resolution to win the support of Germany, which has expressed opposition to unilateral steps. Due to Europe’s debt crisis, in which Germany has emerged as a key savior, some cash-strapped countries such as Greece might defer to German wishes, the official said.

Analysts have debated the consequences of the U.N. showdown. Some say the situation could quickly turn violent if mass demonstrations follow the vote. Others note the possibility of Israel responding with its own unilateral steps.

Ms. Rice said she hopes the Palestinian leadership is considering “the day after.”

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About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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