Palestinian Statehood Bid Could Hurt U.S.-Palestinian Relations, Diplomat Warns

Washington, Aug. 10 —The Palestinian leadership’s plan to move forward on its bid to unilaterally declare statehood in September will harm relations between the Palestinians and the United States and could affect the level of U.S. financial assistance and other cooperation, a senior Western diplomat said Wednesday (Aug. 10).

A day earlier, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that despite rumors of a delay, his side would push ahead with its strategy to approach the U.N. General Assembly in New York next month to gain approval for a Palestinian state, rather than hammer out a two-state solution with Israel. Palestinian officials have spent the past several months traveling the globe to drum up international support for their one-sided statehood bid.

"The Palestinian recognition train has already left the station and is heading toward New York," Erekat told WAFA, a Palestinian news agency. Palestinian officials had reportedly expressed concerns about a possible U.S. economic boycott of the West Bank, putting a strain on the Palestinian financial system.

But the Western diplomat said, "If the PA will go to the U.N. in September, it will make it harder for us to have the same relations with them as we had before when it comes to aid and security training," said the diplomat, who declined to be named. "We want that to continue that cooperation but it will make it harder for us. It is easier to work together as partners."

The diplomat added, "We are trying very hard to make clear to the Palestinians that only direct talks can achieve their goals. We told the PA that going to the U.N. is a bad idea and avoiding talks will not produce any results for them.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres shared his own concerns this week about the Palestinian statehood bid, stating that the Palestinians themselves aren’t certain that going to the United Nations is the best avenue for gaining independence.

“The U.N. cannot provide answers to stopping global terrorism, particularly Iranian terrorism,” said Peres, in an apparent reference to Iran’s ongoing support of terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza. “A U.N. declaration would be meaningless and only prolong the conflict. I hope that both sides return to the negotiating table before September.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walked out of talks with Israel almost a year ago after Israel declined to renew a voluntary moratorium on housing construction, a newly imposed condition by the Palestinians.

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