The Obama administration is facing a clash on the international stage this week, with a Palestinian push for United Nations statehood recognition heading for a likely American veto.
But on ABC’s “Top Line” today, the head Palestinian representative to the United States, Maen Rashid Areikat, told us he’s still hopeful that a “viable alternative” will emerge that can avert the showdown, with assurances from the international community that peace talks with Israel can be put back on track.
“We are simply trying to change the political paradigm and get things moving forward so that we can end the conflict, based on a two-state solution,” Areikat told us.
The Palestinians are seeking “something that will provide hope to the Palestinians that this time we will be engaged in a genuine process. We’ll be talking about substance and not about the process itself. Negotiations are not an end by themselves. It’s the outcome of these negotiations, and we have been engaged for the last 20 years in bilateral negotiations, and yet we’re still under occupation and we are not free people.”
While Palestinian leaders realize the US will wield its Security Council veto if it comes to it, Areikat said he hopes President Obama would reconsider.
“We don’t seek a confrontation with the United States,” he said. “We want to maintain a good relationship with the United States. We’re still talking to the United States, but we wish that the US would reconsider its position and not veto such a resolution.”
Areikat said the Palestinians are not seeking to embarrass Obama.
“We have a high appreciation to the president and his administration, but we also need to see something practical, something genuine, put on the table to tell the Palestinian people that there is hope to finally establish their independence – [a] sovereign state. And we have worked with the administration in the last few months in order to come up with this formula. We are willing to engage if the offer is viable and is practical and offers something new to move this process forward.”
He added: “The Palestinians are not interested in escalating the situation. We believe that this is the only way to keep the hope alive among the Palestinian people that the two-state solution is viable. And President Abbas said repeatedly we will engage in genuine negotiations the day after a resolution is approved at the UN.”