The Palestinians’ request for United Nations membership dealt a setback to hopes for peace in the Middle East, a Southern Baptist public policy specialist said Sept. 26.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), submitted the application to the United Nations Sept. 23 despite opposition by the United States and Israel to the action. Others also described the effort as unhelpful to talks between the P.A. and Israel about contested borders and other issues on the way to Palestinian statehood.
The attempt by the P.A. “to do an end run around direct negotiations and to gain this diplomatic advantage in the U.N. is counterproductive to the hopes for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“The chief stumbling block in the negotiations has always been the Palestinians’ refusal to accept the fact of Israel — that it exists and will continue to exist as a Jewish state,” he said. “The effort by the Palestinians to achieve a form of statehood without direct negotiations with the Israelis will set the cause of true Middle East peace back in important and significant ways, and it should be opposed by our government and by every peace-loving government in the world.”
Land said the idea of the U.N. “arbitrarily and unilaterally declaring Palestinian statehood would be catastrophic to the cause of peace in the Middle East. The borders and the reality of a Palestinian state must be hammered out by direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. They are the ones who are going to live as neighbors side by side in peace.”
President Obama sounded much the same message in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 21 in reiterating his support of Palestinian statehood but through negotiations with Israel.
Source: Baptist Press | Tom Strode