Obama says U.N.-declared Palestinian state a ‘mistake’


(JTA) — President Obama said in London that it would be a "mistake" for the Palestinians to go to the United Nations to proclaim a state.

During a news conference Wednesday in the British capital with Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama called for the Palestinians and Israelis to return to the negotiating table.

"For the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake," he said, adding that a United Nations General Assembly declaration of statehood, if passed, would not "serve the Palestinians."

Obama reiterated his vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, which he discussed as part of a far-reaching Middle East policy speech last week at the U.S. State Department. 

"My goal, as I set out in a speech I gave last week, is a Jewish state of Israel that is safe and secure and recognized by its neighbors and a sovereign state of Palestine in which the Palestinian people are able to determine their own fate and their own future," Obama said. "I am confident that can be achieved."

Cameron called the speech "bold and visionary," referring to Obama’s call for pre-1967 borders with agreed-upon land swaps as the basis for negotiations.

Obama and Cameron both stressed during the news conference that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must step down from power. Obama also said that U.S. and NATO forces will not "let up" in protecting Libyan rebels who have been the victims of violence at the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces. 

Recommended from JTA