During a speech at the United Nations Security Council’s Open Debate on the Middle East, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Susan Rice outlined the Obama administration’s stance on key Middle East issues including Israeli building in the West Bank, peace efforts and the Palestinian bid for statehood.
Rice emphasized that the U.S. “does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity, and will continue to oppose any efforts to legalize outposts.”
“The fate of existing settlements must be dealt with by the parties along with other permanent-status issues,” Rice said.
Rice also called on the Israelis to do more to prevent violence against Palestinians in the West Bank: “Israel should step up its efforts to deter, confront, and prosecute anti-Palestinian violence and extremist hate crimes.”
Speaking on the latest bid by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to upgrade the Palestinians’ status at the UN, Rice rejected their efforts; the vote would “only jeopardize the peace process and complicate efforts to return the parties to direct negotiations,” she said.
The Palestinians currently hold an observer status at the UN. Last year, Abbas attempted a high-profile bid to gain full member status, but failed to gain the necessary votes in the UN Security Council after the U.S. threatened to veto. To obtain non-member status, Abbas will only need a simple majority vote in the UN General Assembly. He is expected to pursue this vote in the coming months.