President Barack Obama, trying to avert a clash over Palestinian statehood, told the United Nations yesterday there was no substitute for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or any short cut to peace.
With U.S. credibility and influence in the Middle East at stake, Obama wants to dissuade the Palestinians from asking the U.N. Security Council for statehood in the teeth of Israeli anger and a U.S. threat to use its veto if it came to a vote.
But a senior Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath, said, “We will cordially and respectfully tell him ‘no.’”
The Palestinians, however, would give the Security Council “some time” to mull the statehood claim before they took it to the U.N. General Assembly, he told a news conference.
Flag-waving Palestinians filled the squares of West Bank cities to rally behind the initiative at the United Nations.
A year after telling the General Assembly he hoped to see a Palestinian state born by now, the U.S. president said creating such a state alongside Israel remained his goal.
“But the question isn’t the goal we seek — the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades,” he said.