Last update – 08:55 01/05/2010
U.S.: We will continue to defend Israel in the UN
By Haaretz Service
The United States will continue supporting Israel in the United Nations, the White House was quoted as saying by Army Radio on Saturday, denying reports that Washington offered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to allow the UN Security Council to censure Israel over its West Bank policy so to encourage the Palestinians to participate in peace talks.
The remarks made Friday by White House spokesman Tommy Vietor referred to recent reports, according to which U.S. special Mideast envoy George Mitchell’s deputy, David Hale, told Abbas that the U.S. views Israeli construction in East Jerusalem as “provocative,” reportedly promising Abbas the U.S. would consider allowing a UNSC condemnation should such activity continue at a significant level.
This assurance would mean a U.S. abstention on any resolution, rather than a veto, the British daily The Guardian reported.
<strong>”This report is inaccurate,” Vietor was quoted as saying in Ben Smith’s Politico blog, adding that U.S. “policy about issues relating to Israel at the U.N. is clear and will not change.”
“We will continue to speak out strongly for Israel?s right to self-defense and to oppose efforts to single Israel out unfairly for criticism,” Vietor said. </strong>
Vietor did not however, according to Smth’s blog, flat out deny the existence of a letter to Abbas saying, “We?ve asked both sides to take steps to rebuild trust and proceed with proximity talks. We?re not going to get into the details of those requests because we think they should be discussed in private diplomatic channels.”
On Friday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also denied the report. It’s not true,” Erekat said. “We are still talking to the Americans.”
Meanwhile, senior Israeli officials told Haaretz on Thursday that Obama told several European leaders that if Israeli-Palestinian talks remain stalemated into September or October, he will convene an international summit on achieving Mideast peace.
The officials said the conference would be run by the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers – the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – in a bid to forge a united global front for creating a Palestinian state. The summit, they said, would address such core issues as borders, security arrangements, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Friday that Syria is opposed to the Palestinians returning to the negotiating table, because “Israel has not made enough gestures of good faith, and in light of the fact that senior officials in Israel have been sounding threats against Damascus and Beirut