U.S. Objects to Use of ‘State of Palestine’ Nameplate at U.N.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice objected Wednesday to the Palestinians’ latest bid to capitalize on their upgraded U.N. status when their foreign minister spoke at the Security Council seated behind a nameplate that read “State of Palestine.”

It was the first Palestinian address to the Security Council since the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 29 to upgrade the Palestinians from U.N. observer to non-voting member state.

Rice said that the United States does not recognize the General Assembly vote in November “as bestowing Palestinian ‘statehood’ or recognition.”

“Only direct negotiations to settle final-status issues will lead to this outcome,” Rice said.

“Therefore, in our view, any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’ in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not
reflect acquiescence that ‘Palestine’ is a state,” she added.

Canadian Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski also complained later that allowing the Palestinians to sit behind the “State of Palestine” nameplate “creates a misleading impression” and said Canada would oppose the Palestinians’ attempts to upgrade their status in symbolic ways.

In his speech to the Security Council, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki reiterated the Palestinian position that a two-state solution be based on the pre-1967 borders.

He also said that if Israel proceeds with plans to build housing on a tract of land east of Yerushalayim, the Palestinians will file a case in the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinians claim that Israel’s envisaged construction of 3,500 apartments in the area known as E-1 would hinder their access to east Yerushalayim, the proposed capital of their future state. Israel disputes the contention, saying that E-1 would no more interfere with Palestinian contiguity than Palestinian cities now interfere with Israeli contiguity.

Since winning recognition as a nonmember U.N. observer state, the Palestinians believe they now qualify for membership in the ICC, although that remains unclear.

In opposing the Palestinian bid for upgraded U.N. status, Israel cited Palestinian threats to turn to the ICC to prosecute Israeli officials for a variety of alleged crimes. Israel does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction and believes its own actions do not violate international law, but officials are concerned that legal action could embarrass the country.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took another symbolic step to capitalize on the U.N. status two weeks ago, proclaiming that letterhead and signs would bear the name “State of Palestine.”

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor told the council, “The major obstacle to the two-state solution is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to speak to their own people about the true parameters of a two-state solution.”