U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in a private meeting following his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that yes, the United States will ensure the PA does not reach statehood via the U.N. without conducting direct talks with Israel. He also urged Abbas to resume direct talks with Israel as soon as possible in order to resolve outstanding core issues between the two parties.
“We would have to oppose any action at the U.N. Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing,” reporters were told by White House National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes following the meeting.
PA Arabs back home, meanwhile, had already begun to "celebrate" the establishment of their hoped-for state, egged on by leadership statements implying that it was all but a "done deal" in one form or another, and with some ceremonies actually sponsored by the Ramallah government. Angry reactions following Obama's speech warned of violence to follow that which had already begun, before the speeches started.
The news presented the final nail in the coffin of hopes that the PA might be able to short-circuit the need for direct negotiations with its neighbor and erstwhile “partner for peace” as a means of establishing its permanent borders, attaining statehood and gaining membership in the United Nations.
The PA is also holding out the hope – and has expressed the intention – of eventually attempting to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague; a goal the U.S. and many Western nations see as less than peaceful.
Although spokesmen for Abbas have said the PA is willing to resume talks, they have set preconditions that prevent the process from even getting started by essentially setting the stage for a final status agreement without negotiations.
Reacting to Obama's speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh told the WAFA news agency the PA is willing to resume talks “once Israel agrees to stop settlements and accepts the 1967 borders as the terms of reference for negotiations.”
Prior to his meeting with U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed out that Israel had complied with a previous PA demand to freeze Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months – and got nowhere.
“I did something that no previous Israeli government did,” he told reporters in New York. “I actually froze any construction for ten months – waited nine months and one week.... the Palestinians finally came and said, well, keep on freezing.”
Netanyahu added that Israel and the United States had finally both come to the conclusion that the core issues had to be addressed if real peace were to be reached.
“We have to negotiate the issues to resolve them,” he said. We can't just negotiate about the negotiations.”