House urges Obama to block unilateral Palestinian statehood


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives called on President Obama to veto any United Nations Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.

The non-binding resolution passed unanimously Wednesday evening calls on the Obama administration to "affirm that the United States would deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties."

The resolution also affirms "strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition."

White House officials have said that they are working to push back a Palestinian Authority effort to garner international recognition of statehood, but have stopped short of pledging to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution.

The effort in recent weeks has garnered recognition from Argentina and Brazil. Now the Palestinian Authority has its sights set on the European Union, with a particular focus on France, Britain, Sweden and Denmark, Haaretz reported Thursday.

The congressional resolution, initiated by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had the backing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

"We join the House in support of the Obama Administration’s opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and join it in calling on the Administration to persuade other nations to oppose such a declaration," AIPAC said in a statement.

J Street did not support the resolution, saying in a statement that "it addresses only one issue standing in the way of peace," a reference to Israel’s continued building in settlements.

Americans for Peace Now issued a similar message before the vote in a letter to House members.

"If the goal of the Berman resolution is truly to oppose unilateral actions, support negotiations, and promote a peace agreement that delivers a two-state solution, it unfortunately falls short of the mark," the letter said. "By singling out only Palestinian actions, it risks sending the message that Congress does not object to unilateral Israeli acts, no matter how corrosive they may be to peace efforts."

The office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington expressed its "deep disappointment" in the resolutuion.

"Members of Congress who are truly concerned about the safety and security of Israelis should recognize that they will never be safeguarded until Palestinians gain their freedom and legal rights," said a statement released by the PLO office. "They should work to support the efforts of President Obama and his administration to bring peace to the region, rather than obstructing them and passing resolutions that hinder that effort."

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