Obama: PA Statehood Bid a 'Distraction'

U.S. President Barack Obama: The Palestinian Authority's statehood bid is a distraction that will not result in viable statehood.

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Elad Benari,

Obama and Abbas
Obama and Abbas
Israel news photo: PLO Site

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that the Palestinian Authority's bid for recognition at the United Nations is a "distraction" that will not result in viable statehood, AFP reported.

Obama, who spoke in a roundtable discussion with journalists, added, however, that Israel would "hurt itself" if it retaliated to any unilateral PA action by withdrawing resources that in any way harmed the PA's self-policing efforts.

Obama said the PA's tactics would not solve the problem of statehood, adding, "This issue is only going to be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians agreeing on something."

The president said that "what happens in New York City can occupy a lot of press attention but is not going to change actually what is happening on the ground until the Israelis and Palestinians sit down."

He added that he believed the most likely scenario is that the PA will seek to upgrade its representation from its current observer status to a non-member state in the United Nations General Assembly.

"We are only one vote in the General Assembly," Obama said. "Clearly there are a lot of countries ready to go with the Palestinians -- depending on the resolution."

He reiterated that the U.S. would veto the statehood bid at the UN Security Council when he said, "That's very different than going to the Security Council, and it's true that I have said very publicly that if this were to come to the Security Council we would object very strongly."

The U.S. tried working all diplomatic channels, overt and back channel, to avert the official move by the PA launching its campaign for recognition as a new country and membership in the international body. The efforts were ignored and criticized by the PA.

Earlier on Monday, Russia announced it will support the PA in its bid for recognition as a new country by the UN. At the same time, as part of last ditch efforts to convince the PA to drop its bid, Germany has sent its foreign minister to Ramallah.

It is not yet clear if UNWRA, the UN body that funds the Palestinian generations of "refugees" can continue to do so if they declare that they have a state.