Abbas. To change wording?
Photo: Reuters
Obama. Caught in the middle
Photo: Reuters

Obama calls Abbas over UN vote

US president attempts to avoid vote to condemn all settlements by suggesting Palestinian president change wording to include only those in which Israel has been asked to halt construction; PLO calls urgent meeting to debate offer

US President Barack Obama spoke to his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, Thursday evening in an effort to prevent a vote by the UN Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements.


The two presidents spoke for 50 minutes, at the end of which Abbas called a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization to discuss the matter further on Friday morning.


Friday's vote puts the Obama administration in a difficult position because a veto would anger the Palestinians and its many supporters around the world while an abstention would anger the Israelis. Either way, the US vote could complicate efforts to resume direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, especially at this sensitive time of widespread anti-government protests in the Mideast.


Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudeineh confirmed reports of the phone call and said the meeting Friday morning in Ramallah would deal with "the conflict of opinion between Obama and the Palestinian president, as well as recent developments in the Middle East" including uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.


Fatah officials claimed Obama had suggested Abbas change the format of the condemnation to include only settlements in which Israel has been asked to halt construction.


He also suggested Abbas call for negotiations over the 1967 borders for a Palestinian state, rather than the current format, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state within these borders, officials said.


The White House refused to comment on whether it would veto the condemnation, though Press Secretary Jay Carney said the US still opposed settlement construction as obstructions to the peace process.


Meanwhile, Republicans criticized the Obama administration for attempting to reach a compromise with the Palestinians. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee issued a statement calling on Obama to "change course, stand unequivocally with Israel, and publicly pledge to block any anti-Israel UN Security Council action".


"Support for this anti-Israel statement is a major concession to enemies of the Jewish State and other free democracies. It telegraphs that the US can be bullied into abandoning critical democratic allies and core US principles," the statement said.


Elior Levy contributedto this report



פרסום ראשון: 02.17.11, 21:47
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