The United States stated its objection today to the Palestinians’ attempt to claim status as a state at the United Nations. Before the Palestinians’ address to the U.N.–their first since their status was upgraded from observer status to non-voting member status on November 29–they placed a nameplate in front of their foreign minister reading “State of Palestine.”
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said that the November vote did not entail bestowing Palestinian “statehood” or recognition … Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome. Therefore, in our view, any reference to the “State of Palestine” in the United Nations, including the use of the term “State of Palestine” on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term “State of Palestine” in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that “Palestine” is a state.
Canadian Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski agreed; he said the nameplate, “creates a misleading impression,” adding that Canada opposed any symbolic actions that misrepresented the Palestinians’ status.
Israel has objections to the Palestinians declaring a state because the Palestinians have threatened to file suit in the International Criminal Court accusing Israeli officials of crimes for allowing building in Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their capital, and although Israel doesn’t recognize the ICC as having power over it, there are concerns over the international repercussions. Israel is planning to build 3,500 apartments in an area called E-1, which Palestinians claim would block Palestinian passage from Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) to east Jerusalem.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told the U.N.:
If Israel would like to go further by implementing the E-1 plan and the other related plans around Jerusalem, then yes, we would be going to the International Criminal Court. We would have no other choice. It depends on the Israeli decision. Israel knows very well our position.
It’s not just at the U.N. that the Palestinians are trying to make the optics change; two weeks ago Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that letterheads and signs would now read “State of Palestine.”
The U.N., of course, stood idly by while the Palestinians acted; Robert Serry, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that the nameplate was acceptable because the U.N. Secretariat, “is guided by the membership, which has pronounced itself on this issue” in the November vote:
“At the same time, member-states have their rights to reserve their opinion … That resolution does not diminish the need for negotiations to actually arrive at a two-state solution.”
But Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor asserted that “the major obstacle to the two-state solution is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to speak to their own people about the true parameters of a two-state solution.”