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US Opposes UN Condemnation of Illegal Israeli Settlements But Allows Hoisting Palestinian Flag


Palestinians hoist flag in Washington for first time

Published today (updated) 19/01/2011 12:36


The Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington on Tuesday hoisted its national flag for the first time, a highly symbolic gesture that drew an angry response from a senior US lawmaker.

The US State Department, enmeshed in an uphill struggle to revive stalled Middle East peace talks, said that the ceremony was approved several months ago and did not change the status of the Palestinian representation in Washington.

Maen Rashid Areikat, the envoy to the headquarters of the General Delegation of the PLO to the United States, raised the flag at a ceremony watched by journalists and others, the mission said.

The statement said delegates from the State Department and Arab League Ambassador Hussein Hasouneh attended the ceremony.

"This flag symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for independence," Areikat was quoted by his mission as saying.

The flag "also is a clear message that the Palestinian people and the PLO are central players in the equation of the Middle East, without whom there will be no peace, security and stability in the region," he said.

But House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, blasted the move as "part of the Palestinian leadership's scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition" of their future state.

The lawmaker charged that US President Barack Obama's administration was rewarding the Palestinians, whom she accused of refusing to negotiate with Israel while seeking "shortcuts to statehood."

"Governments worldwide will interpret such actions as tacit US recognition of a Palestinian state. These actions send precisely the wrong message to foreign governments," said Ros-Lehtinen.

But US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said: "The granting permission to raise the flag does not change their fundamental status."

The move came after direct US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ground to a halt late last year over Israel's refusal to renew a partial freeze on Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

It also came as Arab nations prepare to formally put a resolution to the UN Security Council on Tuesday demanding a condemnation of Israel's settlement building in Palestinian territories.

But no vote was expected for several days as Palestinian and other Arab negotiators try to persuade the US administration not to veto the resolution, diplomats said.

"Our view hasn't changed ... We do not think that New York or the UN Security Council is the right forum for this issue, and we'll continue to make that case," Crowley said.

"I'm not going to speculate on what happens from this point forward," he said when asked about a possible US veto.

A senior State Department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity that the Palestinians have "been told we think this is a bad idea ... We're encouraging them not to move this forward."

Report: US to oppose condemnation of settlements

Published today (updated) 19/01/2011 12:56

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) --

The US opposes the submission of a Palestinian and Arab draft resolution condemning the expansion of settlements in the West Bank at the United Nations, the US State Dept. says.

Dept. spokesman Philip Crowley was quoted by Israel's Channel 10 as saying that the only way to establish a Palestinian state is through direct negotiations with the Israelis.

The channel's website said Crowley’s remarks came in response to a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday to discuss a draft resolution requested by the Palestinians and the Arab group at the UN.

The spokesman has asserted that the US administration opposes bilateral steps, and so will oppose any attempt to seek recognition of independent Palestinian state through the Security Council.

Channel 10 drew a conclusion based on Crowley’s remarks that the US would veto condemnation of Israel’s settlement construction despite that the US administration has been demanding that Israel freeze that construction.

Asked to explain why the US would be opposed to the Security Council recognizing Palestinian statehood even though it was the same UN body that recognized the state of Israel in 1948, Crowley said the circumstances were different and that seeking recognition now will seriously harm the peace process.

The United States traditionally vetoes resolutions which condemn Israel, even though US President Barack Obama has spoken out strongly against Israel's settlement building projects.

"The American position has been all along that they don't want the Security Council to be involved in this issue," Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters.

"We tried, we are trying, we will continue to try to show that it would be very useful for the Security Council to act on this draft resolution," Mansour added.

"And we hope that the United States of American [will] not obstruct this effort at the Security Council," particularly after Israel's new move to approve another 1,400 housing units in East Jerusalem, the envoy said.

If passed, the resolution would put pressure on Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the settlements, which PLO negotiators have said pose the stumbling block to the launch of new direct talks.

Direct talks with Israel, brokered by the United States, were abandoned in September after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on settlement building. Israel says the construction should be an issue discussed in direct talks.

If the United States indicates that it will veto the resolution, Arab states may decide against calling for a vote to avoid a confrontation on the world stage, diplomats said.

Copies of the resolution were first distributed to the Security Council members on December 17 and there have been informal contacts with the major powers since then.

The other permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, France, China and Russia -- are believed to see no reason to veto the motion, and the Palestinian mission believes 14 of the 15 nations on the council would back it now.

"The United States is the key, we need to know their intentions," said one ambassador from an Arab nation, speaking on condition of anonymity.

AFP contributed to this report.

For The First Time, PLO Mission In DC Raises Flag Outside Office Building

Wednesday January 19, 2011 02:00 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

In a symbolic move towards the recognition of an independent Palestinian State, the Palestinian mission in Washington raised the Palestinian flag outside its office building.

Palestinian Flag - Image Reprented From Palestine Note

Maan Erekat, the Palestinian envoy to Washington, expressed hopes that this step could boost the efforts to achieve an international recognition of the independent state.

“This is a historic day”, Erekat said, “I will remember it as long as am alive”.
Palestinian government spokesperson, Dr. Ghassan Khatib, stated that this step comes several months after the United States decided to raise the level of Palestinian representation in Washington.

Khatib added that raising the flag at the representative office in DC, is similar to moves made by several countries around the world, especially in Europe.

On Monday, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to an independent Palestinian state, and added that Russia is committed to this recognition that was first made in 1988.

Recently, Guyana along with Argentina, Bolivia, and several other South American Countries recognized the Independent Palestinian State.

Also, Guyana, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and several other South American Countries recognized the future state and expressed their support to the Palestinian legitimate right to independence and statehood.

The wave of recognition is expected to continue while Middle East peace talks remain in a deadlock due to Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and expansion, ongoing home demolition and violations in Jerusalem, and ongoing invasions and attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


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