The Obama administration insisted Monday there was still time to avert a divisive showdown over Palestinian statehood, ignoring President Mahmoud Abbas’ defiant pledge to take his government’s case to the United Nations and reaching out to Western allies in the hopes of a last-ditch compromise.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. was engaged in “extremely intensive” diplomacy with Israel, the Palestinians and the other governments gathered in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.
“We continue to believe and are pressing the point that the only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations,” Clinton said before a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba.
“No matter what does or doesn’t happen this week, it will not produce the kind of result that everyone is hoping for,” she said.
Clinton said the week was still young and there were still several days to find a compromise. The U.S. and Europe have been trying to find a formula that would pave the way for direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, while addressing the Palestinian frustration with the lack of progress over the past year.
Only 12 months ago, President Barack Obama said he hoped to welcome Palestine as the newest U.N. member at this year’s global gathering. But the Palestinian decision to go the United Nations without agreement with Israel caused Washington to work against the plan and promise to veto it in the U.N. Security Council.
Obama, who arrived in New York on Monday afternoon, was scheduled to meet later in the week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though there were no immediate plans for the president to meet Abbas.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the U.S. and international partners continue to be in touch with the Palestinians “at all levels.”