Palestinian leaders vowed to seek United Nations recognition for a state of their own, rebuffing entreaties from American diplomats who are scrambling to avert a potentially explosive situation.
The United States has opposed the statehood bid, with the Obama administration maintaining that the only path to a Palestinian state is through direct negotiations with Israel. Diplomats are hoping to avoid a situation in which the United States is forced to publicly vote against Palestinian aspirations for self-determination, a move that would be deeply unpopular at a time when popular revolutions across the Middle East have galvanized pro-Palestinian movements.
President Barack Obama dispatched top diplomats to try and dissuade Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from pursuing the vote, but Abbas remained defiant.
We appreciate the American role, but you are too late, Abbas told Dennis B. Ross, according to the New York Times. We have reached the moment of truth, and we are going to the Security Council.
U.S. Expected to Use Veto
Last week the State Department acknowledged for the first time that the United States would use its veto should the issue come before the Security Council. Palestinian leaders have spoken of bypassing the Security Council and going directly to the General Assembly, where the United States would almost certainly be among a minority of nations voting against the bid, and seeking to have its United Nations status elevated to that of nonmember voting state.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney reiterated the Obama administration's emphasis on direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinians and Israelis on Thursday, calling the United Nations push a distraction and counterproductive.
Congress has also applied pressure, seeking to revoke U.S. aid to Palestine if the resolution comes to a vote (according to a May 31, 2011 Congressional Research Service report, from 2008 to the present, annual American bilateral assistance to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has averaged over $600 million). A bipartisan Senate resolution passed in June called for restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority should it persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies. And Congressional Democrats sent a letter urging 40 European heads of state not to support the Palestinian resolution.