Ambassador Rice Rejects PA Status At UN

Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Following UN General Assembly Vote on Palestinian Observer State Status Resolution

For decades, the United States has worked to help achieve a comprehensive end to the long and tragic Arab-Israeli conflict. We have always been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two peoples, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.

That remains our goal, and we therefore measure any proposed action against that clear yardstick: will it bring the parties closer to peace or push them further apart? Will it help Israelis and Palestinians return to negotiations or hinder their efforts to reach a mutually acceptable agreement? Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it.

More after the jump.
The backers of today’s resolution say they seek a functioning, independent Palestinian state at peace with Israel. So do we.

But we have long been clear that the only way to establish such a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through the crucial, if painful, work of direct negotiations between the parties. This is not just a bedrock commitment of the United States. Israel and the Palestinians have repeatedly affirmed their own obligations under existing agreements to resolve all issues through direct negotiations, which have been endorsed frequently by the international community. The United States agrees-strongly.

Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.

The United States therefore calls upon both the parties to resume direct talks without preconditions on all the issues that divide them. And we pledge that the United States will be there to support the parties vigorously in such efforts.

The United States will continue to urge all parties to avoid any further provocative actions-in the region, in New York, or elsewhere.

We will continue to oppose firmly any and all unilateral actions in international bodies or treaties that circumvent or prejudge the very outcomes that can only be negotiated, including Palestinian statehood. And, we will continue to stand up to every effort that seeks to delegitimize Israel or undermine its security.

Progress toward a just and lasting two-state solution cannot be made by pressing a green voting button here in this hall. Nor does passing any resolution create a state where none indeed exists or change the reality on the ground.

For this reason, today’s vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for U.N. membership. It does not. This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state.

The United States believes the current resolution should not and cannot be read as establishing terms of reference. In many respects, the resolution prejudges the very issues it says are to be resolved through negotiation, particularly with respect to territory. At the same time, it virtually ignores other core questions such as security, which must be solved for any viable agreement to be achieved.

President Obama has been clear in stating what the United States believes is a realistic basis for successful negotiations, and we will continue to base our efforts on that approach.

The recent conflict in Gaza is just the latest reminder that the absence of peace risks the presence of war. We urge those who share our hopes for peace between a sovereign Palestine and a secure Israel to join us in supporting negotiations, not encouraging further distractions. There simply are no short cuts.

Long after the votes have been cast, long after the speeches have been forgotten, it is the Palestinians and the Israelis who must still talk to each other-and listen to each other-and find a way to live side by side in the land they share.

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  1. B'nai B'rith says

    Circumvents Need for Agreement with Israel

    B’nai B’rith International condemns the Nov. 29 vote at the United Nations General Assembly to grant non-member observer “state” status to the Palestinians. The Palestinians’ unilateral effort to upgrade their status is a violation of signed agreements with Israel. Furthermore, it defies insistence by the international Quartet for Middle East peace, of which the U.N. itself is a member, that progress be made through direct negotiations between the parties.

    The vote was 138 in favor and 9 against in the 193-seat General Assembly, with 41 abstentions. This could further allow the Palestinians to advance their goal of “internationalizing” the conflict with the Jewish state and initiating judicial scrutiny of Israel’s efforts at self-defense in the face of relentless terrorism. The Palestinians will be accorded the same degree of recognition as the Vatican.

    B’nai B’rith especially commends the United States for its consistently strong position on this issue, and the other countries that voted against: Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama. These nations clearly recognized that this is not an appropriate way for the Palestinians to create a new state. In bypassing negotiations the Palestinians are making it clear they have no intention of dealing directly with Israel in good faith.

    “So many issues need to be resolved between the parties, including not only borders but security, yet this vote leaves Israel on the sidelines,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel for nearly four years despite Israel’s offer to meet at any time without pre-conditions. This U.N. move demonstrates not only how Israel has been marginalized by this resolution, but also how much more difficult this move has made the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”

    With backing from countries that included Austria, France and Italy, the Palestinians are shirking the difficult but vital work of bilateral negotiations and compromise, while asking the United Nations to deliver their political goals. The abstentions of Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom are also deeply disappointing.

    “This unilateral move will only hurt any chance of moving peace talks forward,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “As it is, recent events should have reminded the world that there isn’t even unified control over the Palestinian territories. Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction, continues to control the Gaza Strip. Even the Palestinian mission to the U.N., which brought today’s motion, features on its emblem a map of ‘Palestine’ that encompasses the entire State of Israel.”  

    For decades, B’nai B’rith has worked to erode systemic abuse of Israel at the world body through active engagement with U.N. officials, ambassadors and other key players in the international community.

    Last year, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recognized “Palestine” as a state.

    B’nai B’rith will continue to work within the U.N. system to urge a far more just and constructive approach to global challenges.

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