Palestinians' U.N. bid draws reaction

Sept. 18, 2011 at 3:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Israeli, Palestinian and officials from other nations say they hope to avoid conflict as the Palestinians' leader seeks U.N. recognition of a Palestine state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to make his request to the United Nations Friday, a bid the United States has vowed to veto in favor of continued negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's chief representative to the United States, said he hopes the United States would reconsider its stance and vote in favor of the bid. Areikat said on CNN's "State of the Union" that so far negotiations have not been successful despite Palestine repeatedly making itself available whereas Israel has not.

"We have been forthcoming, receptive, worked with every idea, suggestion, proposal that the United States submitted to us. We urge the Israelis to sit down and talk about security and borders. ... Unfortunately, the Israelis did not want to sit and engage," Areikat said.

Michael Oren, Israel ambassador to the United States, said his country stopped settlements in the West Bank in order to encourage negotiations with Palestine, but that their leaders "never came to the table." He also challenged the idea that Palestinians want U.N. recognition in order to obtain peace.

"In a New York Times op-ed in May, [Abbas] said that he's going to the United Nations to get this state not to make peace but to challenge Israel's legitimacy in international arenas and to try to undermine the peace process. He has also made a pact with Hamas. Let's not forget this. Hamas is a terrorist organization," he said.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair, a former British prime minister and special envoy to the peace process, said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" he hopes the United States does not withhold funding to Palestine over the U.N. bid.

"I see what this American money actually does. And it provides support for security, on the Palestinian side, for institutions and for the economy, which is hugely important to what Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad for the Palestinians has been doing rather brilliantly over the last two or three years, which is trying to build the state from the bottom up," he said.

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