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By Rhonda Spivak, September 15, 2011

This past week for the first time an official of the United States State Department made a clear statement that the United States would veto a unilateral Palestinian bid at the UN Security Council for a declaration for a Palestinian State. 
Up until now, Obama’s administration had suggested it may veto, but had not made it crystal clear, such that Palestinian leadership has been under the illusion that maybe they could convince the U.S. to not use the veto, and get their state without negotiating an agreement with Israel. .
Had Obama made it clear from the outset, many months ago, that he would not hesitate to use the veto, it may have resulted in the PA leadership having decided to drop its planned course of action. But Obama was too weak and too wishy-washy to do so. In the last two or three months there have been regular media reports in Palestinian and Israeli media which indicate that some in the PA, including Salam Fayyad, have wanted Mahmoud Abbas to change course and drop the unilateral bid for a state at the UN.
Had Obama made his position clearer months ago, those in the PA who have been suggesting that the UN bid is unwise would have been strengthened, and Abbas would have had more time to find a ladder to climb down from the tree he has climbed up.
While at the AIPAC conference in Washington Obama said he did not support the Paelstinian move, he failed to articulate whether he would use his veto or abstain. Obama’s weakness and lack of clarity has resulted in the PA actually being surprised that he will use his veto, when it should have been no surprise at all. This way, Obama will have to use his veto, but forego any benefits that could have accrued to him had he said so much earlier.
In July of this summer, David Bedein of the Israel Resource News Agency, [who is also a correspondent for the Winnipeg Jewish Review] dispatched a reporter to Washington to cover the special meeting of the US House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia that convened in special session to discuss U.S funding of the Palestinian Authority following the PA-Hamas Accord.
In that session, a US State Department Representative Jacob Walles, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State was asked point blank if the US would abstain or use its veto and did not receive an answer.
Here is the testimony at the Subcommittee session:
Question from Chairman Steve Chabot (Republican-Ohio): The PA has launched a camp to get recognition in the UN.    Will the administration pledge to veto? 
Jacob Walles: “The President is clear we that we do not support their state declaration, which must be negotiated not created by the UN. He will not support any efforts in that direction.”
Congressman Gary L. Ackerman (Democrat – NY): I didn't get a direct answer about the Veto but we will let it go. 
It is unfortunate that Congressman Ackerman, the Palestinians, the Israelis and the rest of the world did not get a clear answer form the Obama administration not only in July, but months earlier when the Palestinians were beginning to hatch their UN plan. It was a subject that Congressman Ackerman ought not to have let go.
P.S.- According to an article by Alan Dershowitz in the Wall Street Journal,   President Mahmoud Abbas described his playbook for seeking U.N. recognition while bypassing the step of negotiating a two-state solution: "We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years."
Note that Abbas is defining occupation as having begun in 1948, not 1967. In other words, he is clearly implying that even were Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, that is not enough. He is indicating to his people that he will continue to demand the return of Palestinian refugees en masse to Israel, not any new formed Palestinian state. In other words—he wants two Palestinian states, one in the territories and one in Israel.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.