Speaking from the United Nations this morning, US President Barack Obama told world leaders that Palestinians deserve recognition. In his opinion, however, the UN shouldn’t have to offer it.“One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine,”
Obama reminded the General Assembly this morning from New York.“I believed then and I believe now that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own.”
Obama added, however, that that truce shouldn’t be a matter of concern for the UN. Rather, added the president, “a genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.”
“One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences,” said Obama. He added that he and others had become “frustrated” by the lack of progress on the peace talks, and said, “The question isn’t in the goal that we seek; the question is how do we reach that goal?”
According to both Obama and Israel, admitting Palestine to the United Nations would “shortcut” peace talks. As the opposing nations continue an ongoing stalemate, Obama is siding that they take matters into their own hands rather than bring their burden to the UN.
But while the United States may be in the minority as far as UN nations objecting Palestinian membership is concerned, Obama sided with Israelis this morning while attempting to avoid showcasing his obvious bias.
Obama said that the friendship between the United States and Israel is one that is “deep and endured” and that “America’s commitment to Israel security is unshakeable.” As a result, he says he cannot sponsor UN recognition for Palestine until the two states resolve their own differences.
Responding to his speech this morning, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Obama for standing with Israel and acknowledge that “We both agree that this is the only way to achieve peace.” Netanyahu was perhaps a bit more blunt with his words for Palestine, however, warning them that their attempt to get membership will not succeed, and warned his nation’s neighbors that “Responsible leaders will oppose this effort to shortcut peace negations.”
“Standing your ground,” Netanyahu told Obama, “Is a badge of honor.”
“I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor,” added the PM, who said he hopes that others will follow that example.
America and Israel don’t exactly hold the opinion of other UN members, however. The majority of UN-membership countries, totaling over 100, are in favor of Palestinian recognition. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas believes that admission will not be a shortcut, but rather a catalyst for negations. In a recent editorial published in The New York Times, Abbas wrote, “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one.”
News outlets panned to President Abbas throughout their coverage of this morning’s speech, often showing the leader with his hand pressed to his head. He is expected to meet with Obama later today. On Friday, the United Nations is expected to hear Abbas’ plea for membership.
“I think it has dawned on everybody that they cannot convince us not to go,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian delegation, reports The Hindu.“
In a speech from Ramallah recently, Abbas himself said, “We need to have full membership in the United Nations … we need a state, and we need a seat at the UN.”
Grass roots campaign David Swanson tells RT that he thinks the UN has always been flawed. "If you have a war-making state with troops in 177 nations and slicing up the globe into different commands and a military that could be cut by 80 percent and still be the world's largest – if you have that kind of influence, you're going to have wars get authorized."
According to Swanson, whether or not Obama is in the majority, the power that comes with the name of America resonates deep within the General Assembly. He added, however, that both the respect and power of the United States is diminishing in the eyes of the UN.