Rice briefs Jewish leaders on U.N. drive


NEW YORK (JTA) — U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice briefed a dozen American Jewish leaders on U.S. efforts to avert the Palestinian bid for statehood in the United Nations.

Three sources who attended the Sept. 15 meeting told Politico that the United States is resigned to the measure passing the General Assembly but is whipping up votes to cut into its margin of victory.

"She didn’t have a starry-eyed approach," one of the Jewish leaders told Politico. "There’s an awareness both on her part and on our part that assuming that the Palestinians go ahead with the resolution it’s going to pass the General Assembly and it’s going to pass by a comfortable margin."

The U.S. has promised to veto the bill when it comes before the Security Council, but according to sources at the meeting, Rice also is attempting to convince other Security Council members to abstain from voting and deny the measure the nine of 15 votes it requires to pass the Security Council.

The sources described the meeting to Politico as warm, with Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an oft-times critic of the Obama administration, reportedly telling Rice that the administration deserves more credit for its work on the issue.

Along with Hoenlein the attendees, a source told Politico, were Lee Rosenberg of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress; David Harris of the American Jewish Committee; Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League; Daniel Mariaschin of B’nai B’rith International; Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs; Martin Bresler of Americans for Peace Now; Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street; Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly; and Rabbi Steven Weil of the Orthodox Union.

Later in the day, Rice briefed a small group of journalists from Jewish media outlets, including the JTA, and denied that the U.S. is working to create a toned-down draft of the U.N. resolution on Palestinian statehood. 

“We’re not negotiating any text, we’re not engaged in efforts to water down a text,” Rice said in the briefing. “We’re making the case that this is not a productive course.”

Rice dismissed as false rumors that a draft text even exists, but she said the Europeans were talking with the Palestinians about the substance of a resolution.

“There is no Palestinian text yet,” she said. “Nobody in New York has seen one.”

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