The last thing President Obama needs is another September showdown over Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly. Last year’s fiasco was damaging enough, and that wasn’t with a presidential election looming. But that’s exactly what Palestinian envoy Maen Rashid Areikat is threatening, according to The Hill:
The lack of progress on a two-state solution led the Palestinians to unilaterally seek United Nations recognition as a sovereign state last year — a move the Obama administration vowed to block — and Areikat warned that the Palestinians might well try again.
“The Palestinian leadership said that they reserve the right to resort to any and every venue possible to further our objectives,” Areikat said, noting that Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat made that clear to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when he met with her on June 20, their first meeting in nine months.
“If the political vacuum continues, we will go to the United Nations General Assembly. We are going to explore other venues, and we have the right to do that.”
If the political vacuum continues? Of course the political vacuum is going to continue. Can you imagine Obama voluntarily resurrecting the issue of Israel-Palestinian negotiations before the election? It would only be a reminder of his failures in this arena, his clashes with Israel about settlements and borders, and his incoherent Middle East policy.
A Palestinian statehood bid at the UN would put Obama in yet another diplomatic and political bind. Last year, the criticism of Obama was relentless. The congressional race in New York between Republican Bob Turner and Democrat David Welprin evolved into a referendum on Obama’s Israel policy — and Obama lost. That’s not something he’ll want to rehash two months before the presidential election.