CMEP Bulletin: U.S., Palestinians Emphasize Peace at UN
Most of the attention in New York at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly was on Syria and the thawing U.S.-Iranian relations. Secretary of State John Kerry dissuaded the Palestinian officials from making moves in the General Assembly, as they did last year when the UNGA recognized Palestine as a “non member observer state,” in order to continue the negotiations.
However, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was near the top of the U.S. agenda. In President Barack Obama’s speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday morning he reiterated a commitment to a two-state solution. He said, “In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.” He continued, “I have made clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state… Likewise, the United States remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state.”
After the speech, the New York Times editorial board wrote, “It is no surprise that Iran was at the top of his agenda… More surprising was Mr. Obama’s decision to give prominence to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, which the White House initially held at arm’s length even as Secretary of State John Kerry began to bring the two sides together. We hope that means the United States-brokered negotiations, taking place behind closed doors, may be making some progress.”
In an important statement the following day, Secretary John Kerry said that the United States would be playing a bigger role in the negotiations “to intensify these talks.” He also expressed his commitment to a final agreement –not an interim one– by saying one of the lessons he’s learned from failed attempts is, “if you leave things out there, hanging out there unresolved, people who don’t want things to happen can make them not happen. And so we have to try to find a way to get a resolution of the fundamental choices here.”
On Thursday, it was Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ turn to address the assembly “for the first time in the name of the State of Palestine.” He said, “Our message stems from the idea that the two peoples, the Palestinian and the Israeli, are partners in the task of peacemaking. This is why we keep reaching out to the Israeli side saying: let us work to make the culture of peace reign, to tear down walls, to build bridges instead of walls, to open wide roads for connection and communication. Let us sow the seeds of good neighborliness. Let us envision another future that the children of Palestine and of Israel enjoy with peace and security, and where they can dream and realize their dreams, a future that allows Muslims, Christians and Jews to freely reach places of worship…”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Obama and address the General Assembly next week.