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Obama: Palestinian UN bid a 'distraction'

US President Barack Obama describes a Palestinian bid for UN recognition as a 'distraction,' stating that it would lead to viable results

AFP , Tuesday 13 Sep 2011
Obama, Netanyahu, and Ababs
U.S. President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Sept. 1, 2010 (Photo:Reuters)

US President Barack Obama said on Monday that a Palestinian bid for recognition next week at the United Nations was a "distraction" and would not result in viable statehood.

In a roundtable with Hispanic journalists, Obama also said that Israel would "hurt itself" if it retaliated to any such action by withdrawing resources that in any way harmed Palestinian self-policing efforts.

The United States has already threatened to veto any bid for full recognition by the Palestinians in the UN Security Council, a step that is expected at the UN General Assembly next week in New York.

Obama said the Palestinian tactics were "a distraction" and did not solve the problem of statehood.

"This issue is only going to be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians agreeing on something," he said.

"What happens in New York City can occupy a lot of press attention but is not going to change actually what is happening on the ground until the Israelis and Palestinians sit down," Obama said.

The president said that he believed the most likely scenario was for the Palestinians to seek to upgrade their representation from current observer status to non-member state in the UNGA.

"We are only one vote in the General Assembly. Clearly there are a lot of countries ready to go with the Palestinians -- depending on the resolution," he said.

"That's very different than going to the Security Council and it's true that I have said very publicly that if this were to come to the Security Council we would object very strongly."

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is expected to submit a formal request for the United Nations to accept Palestine as its 194th member when the General Assembly opens on September 20.

Obama also warned that if Israel retaliated to a Palestinian bid for recognition in a way that harmed Palestinian financing for self-policing "that would only hurt Israel, not help Israel."

The United States has said it will work up to the last moment to avoid a Palestinian statehood bid.

The Palestinians have vowed to not resume talks while Israel builds in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank.

But the United States says direct talks, and not an independent state bid by the Palestinians, are the correct way to secure statehood.

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