|© AFP Abbas Momani|
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – US President Barack Obama warned the Palestinians of “repercussions” if they pushed for a UN Security Council vote against Jewish settlements, an official said on Friday.
“President Obama threatened on Thursday night to take measures against the Palestinian Authority if it insists on going to the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlement activity, and demand that it be stopped,” a senior Palestinian official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Obama’s remarks came during an hour-long telephone conversation between the two late on Thursday, in which the US leader tried to dissuade Abbas from supporting a UN Security Council vote due to take place later on Friday.
During the call, Obama told Abbas: “There will be repercussions for Palestinian-American relations if you continue your attempts to go to the Security Council and ignore our requests in this matter, especially as we suggested other alternatives.”
He was referring to a package of incentives laid out earlier this week aimed at enticing the Palestinians to withdraw their support for the draft resolution on settlements which is being put before the Security Council.
After the Palestinians had rejected the initial offer, Obama rang Abbas late on Thursday to suggest that the Security Council issue a non-binding statement calling on Israel to implement a settlement freeze.
During the conversation, Abbas had rejected the offer, saying: “Stopping settlement activity is a Palestinian demand that will not be taken back because it was the reason the peace process fell apart,” the official quoted him as saying.
“It was a decision taken by the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people are sticking to this demand.”
It was not immediately clear at what stage in the phone call Obama had warned Abbas against rejecting the US overtures.
US-brokered peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians stalled in late 2010 after the expiry of a temporary freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.
Efforts by Washington to coax Israel into reimposing a freeze collapsed in December, and the Palestinians are refusing to continue negotiating while Israel builds on land they want for their promised state.
The United States, which regularly uses its Security Council veto power to stop anti-Israeli initiatives, is very keen to avoid the vote because it does not want to be forced to cast a veto.
Should it do so, it would be the first time the United States has used its veto power since Obama took office in January 2009.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license