WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama told Palestinian Authority President Abbas that the United States remains opposed to unilateral bids to achieve statehood status at the United Nations.
"In his discussion with President Abbas, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security," a White House statement said Sunday evening. "He also reiterated the United States’ opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations."
The Palestine Liberation Organization is seeking an upgrade to observer state status at the United Nations.
Israel and the United States oppose the bid, saying that statehood recognition should only come as a result of bilateral negotiations.
Abbas walked out of talks with Israel two years ago because of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to extend a partial settlement freeze.
The quest for observer status is more modest than the PLO’s bid for full U.N. membership as a state last year.
Full membership requires approval by the Security Council, where the United States wields a veto. Observer status requires only the approval of the General Assembly, where the Palestinians are believed to have majority support.
Obama was returning Abbas’ congratulations for winning last week’s U.S. reelection. Obama returned a similar call to Netanyahu two days after the Nov. 6 vote.