President Obama Refused Harry Reid’s Suggestion to Publicly Promise that he Would Oppose Any UN Resolution Calling for an Independent Palestinian State


Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on two different occasions this year went to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough seeking a public commitment from President Barack Obama that he would veto any U.N. resolution calling for an independent Palestinian state.

Both times, Obama did nothing.

The requests from Reid came as he was trying to line up Democratic support for the Iran nuclear agreement. If Obama explicitly sided with Israel against the possible U.N. resolution, Reid’s thinking went, it would give nervous Democrats cover to back the Iran deal, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vocally protested.

The repeated requests by Reid and Obama’s unwillingness to make a statement on the issue — confirmed by White House officials and Senate aides — highlights how wide the gulf between the Obama administration and Israeli government has become. It unfolded in the context of a personal relationship between Obama and Netanyahu that’s become highly toxic, poisoning U.S.-Israeli relations more widely.

The issue gained new significance Wednesday as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that his government was no longer bound by any agreements with Israel, including the Oslo peace accords and other settlements related to a possible two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abbas made his comments during a high-profile speech at the United Nations General Assembly. Netanyahu is set to address the world body on Thursday. The Israeli leader has repeatedly asserted that he is willing to begin a new round of negotiations with Abbas with no preconditions, though Abbas has rejected this approach as unworkable.

U.S. policy has long been that American officials would veto any Security Council resolution calling for the established of a Palestinian state. That has continued during the Obama administration.

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