US Senator Lindsey Graham, who attended the Saban Forum in Jerusalem told Ynet it would be unreasonable for President Barack Obama to support the Palestinians' unilateral declaration of statehood, and urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiations table. He warned that any independent move on their part would be devastative to the peace process.
Speaking with Ynet, Graham said he could not say for certain that the Obama administration would veto the declaration of Palestinian independence, as Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman believes, but the senator did say that he could not imagine a situation in which his government would support such a move.
He added that such a move would be irresponsible on the part of the Palestinians, and that the responsible move would be for the Palestinians to accept Israel's position, open talks and give President Mahmoud Abbas the power to act.
Graham said he could not think of a more destructive move than the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and said this would lead to chaos.
The goal should be a two state solution, he said, with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. But the importance of the existence of an independent Jewish state living in peace without fear of coming under attack must not be forgotten, he said.
Senators Lieberman (L) and Graham in J'lem Monday (Photo: AP)
A similar, albeit more hesitant, position was heard earlier from Graham's fellow senators, Joe Lieberman and Ted Kaufman.
Speaking at the Saban Forum, Kaufman said any attempts by the Palestinians to approach the UN Security Council with a demand to declare their independence would simply be a waste of time.
Senator Lieberman said he hopes and believes the US will veto such a move if it reaches the Security Council.
During the interview, Graham expressed confidence in the possibility of leading a peace process with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. He said leaders of the Arab world have the ability to pressure the Palestinians into opening talks, and that if Abbas is willing to negotiate with Israel, he will need the support of the Arab world, since Hamas will continue to criticize him.
Graham, a supporter of the two-state solution, said the leaders of the Arab world now have a chance to boost the Palestinian Authority and accept Israel's proposal to commence negotiations.
He also commented on the tension between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barak Obama, and said that American support of Israel has not changed. He said the American people support Israel regardless of the ruling government.
He said he believes the new government in Israel is serious and wishes to hold negotiations with the Palestinians, and expressed hopes that the Palestinians respond appropriately to Israel's proposal to commence talks without preconditions.