JERUSALEM – If Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail to reach an agreement within the next year, the Obama administration could support a United Nations resolution that would unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, senior PA officials told WND.
The officials were speaking ahead of a major summit that starts today in Washington to launch direct talks between Israel and the PA. The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan will also take part in the summit.
Sources in both the PA and Israel told WND the Obama administration did not impose any preconditions for the summit, a move that is somewhat out of character for the U.S. president. It was Obama who urged Israel to halt all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as a precondition for indirect negotiations last November.
Under intense pressure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze Jewish West Bank construction for 10 months, a moratorium set to expire at the end of September.
PA officials told WND they received an American pledge against any new Jewish construction into the foreseeable future in the West Bank or eastern sections of Jerusalem, excluding what are known as the three main settlement blocs – Gush Etzion, Maale Adumin and Ariel.
The PA officials said the U.S. has been negotiating the borders of a future Palestinian state that would see Israel eventually withdraw from most of the West Bank and some areas of eastern Jerusalem with the exception of the three blocs.
While the PA does not believe it will see an actual Palestinian state within a year, it expects in that time it will take over many more neighborhoods in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem that are normally controlled on the ground by Israel.
The PA said the expectation is based on pledges by the Obama administration.
Still, both Israeli leaders and PA officials told WND that following today’s summit they do not expect any major momentum toward a future Palestinian state until after November’s midterm elections. Officials on both sides believe Obama sees a heavy-handed approach toward Israeli-Palestinian talks as a potential liability in the run-up to the elections.
Netanyahu is headed to today’s summit with the knowledge that if talks are not ultimately fruitful, Obama could back the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state outside the framework of coordination with Israel.
The threat to create a Palestinian state using a U.N. vote is not new.
Last year, Ahmed Qurei, former PA prime minister and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, told WND in an interview that the PA “reached an understanding with important elements within the administration” to possibly bring to the U.N. Security Council a resolution to unilaterally create a Palestinian state.
Asked to which “elements” he was referring, Qurei would only say they were from the Obama administration.
Despite widespread assumptions the U.S. would veto any such U.N. Security Council resolution, PA officials told WND the Obama administration did not threaten to veto their conceptual unilateral resolution.
“The U.S. has a history of never before vetoing any U.N. move to create a new state,” a PA negotiator pointed out.
Today’s summit will begin with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosting one-to-one discussions with Netanyahu, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt, and Tony Blair, envoy of the ‘Quartet’ of Middle East peace negotiators – the United Nations, the U.S., the European Union and Russia.
Later, speeches will be delivered by the Middle East leaders as well as by Obama.