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State of confusion: Obama backpedals on Palestine

Published time: September 22, 2011 06:04
Edited time: September 22, 2011 17:12

U.S. President Barack Obama (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images/AFP)

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President Barack Obama has personally sworn to veto any resolution recognizing a free and independent Palestinian state because he claims the UN is not the right place for a new state to be born.

His comments came during a face-to-face meeting with the leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, who nevertheless vowed to press ahead with his country's bid tomorrow.

The 66th UN General Assembly that is currently underway has many issues on the table, but no doubt the question of creating an independent Palestinian state is the most contentious.

Palestinian authorities prepare to raise a question of its independence from Israel on Friday and they expect the UN to recognize it. But a great deal of uncertainty remains.

The American president has met the leaders of both Israel and Palestine and though, as he put it, both America and Israel see Palestine as an independent state, this could actually come about only in the future as a result of a dialogue, so there is no need to raise a question on which side the US is on.

President Barack Obama is balancing between promised statehood to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas last year and also giving his word to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to torpedo the bid of the Palestinian Autonomy for independence. (Click to enlarge)
President Barack Obama is balancing between promised statehood to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas last year and also giving his word to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to torpedo the bid of the Palestinian Autonomy for independence. (Click to enlarge)

After several decades of dialogue with Israel, Palestine has finally decided to bring the question of independence to the UN, while President Obama said that the UN is not a place where the independent Palestinian state could be born, and threatened to veto the UN resolution recognizing Palestinian independence, should there be one.

In the meantime, Moscow has been trying to persuade Washington to abstain from vetoing these talks, but here comes the American president, who finds himself in a really ambiguous situation.

None other than Barack Obama said one year ago that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state should happen in 2011. And it was Barack Obama who has been consistently supporting the Arab Spring revolutions in the states of Maghreb and in the Middle East.

President Obama simply cannot now just back off from Palestine right now, because this would produce quite a negative effect on his image among the newly-liberated countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa.

At the same time, with Israel being Washington’s key ally in the Middle East, the Obama administration cannot simply back off either.

The Palestinians say that decades-long negotiations with Tel-Aviv have really led to nothing. Palestinian authorities say they cannot back down with their agenda either – with over 1 million of Palestinians under blockade in the Gaza Strip. For those people, independence from Israel is the last hope they have.

­Shawan Jabreen, director general for Al-Haq Human Rights Organization, said that with its recent stance, the USA is causing a further deterioration of the situation in the region.

“Everybody knows all over the world the US is a bad player,” he said. “They are selectively taking cases here or there, and denying the Palestinians’ rights to self-determination is a big issue, I think, and this is a threat for security and peace.”

According to the activist, the worst thing America is doing now is taking hope away from the Palestinians.

“This is a symbolic issue and the United States does not even want to give the Palestinians any hope,” he said. “It is not just to end the occupation tomorrow, but to give the Palestinians hope that the international community supports the right of Palestinians to exercise their self-determination.”

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