By Samie Al-Dulaimi
Any viable future state for the Palestinians can only be achieved by direct negotiations with the Israelis, and not through unilateral action from the United Nations, a US State Department official said on Thursday.
The remark was made to reporters by the US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Tamara Wittes, in a live internet press briefing broadcast from Washington, immediately after US President Barack Obama’s important speech on the Middle East.
“It is our view, a very strongly-held view, that the only way to achieve a lasting sustainable, peace between both peoples is through direct negotiations, not through any other means. That means that efforts of the UN to achieve some unilateral action are not going to lead to independent Palestinian statehood.
“Palestinian statehood will be achieved through negotiations and we think that that’s the best way to get an outcome that’s sustainable and that brings security and peace to both sides. So that is the process that we’re working to support.”
On the issue, President Obama had in his speech highlighted for the first time that his country supports Palestinian statehood according to the borders of 1967, which represents a major breakthrough to the dismay of the Israelis.
He also mentioned that the US would be working with international partners towards assisting Egypt and Tunisia economically during their transitional period towards democracy, and Wittes, when asked which countries in the Middle East region, if any, would be asked to help out, said: “There are those in the region who can play an important role there as well and we hope that they will do so.”
Efforts to see this happen will start with the upcoming G8 Summit in France next week, she noted, stressing that this can only be achieved through the joint work of the international community.
On Yemen, she expressed hope the efforts of the international community would lead to a “a transfer of power” in reference to the recently written Gulf Cooperation Council agreement, which gives Yemeni President Ali Saleh a month to step down, after which he would prepare for elections in a period of no less than two months.
The deal also grants Saleh and his administration full immunity after stepping down.
“This is a process we are very supportive of because it’s an inclusive process and its one that allows the government and the opposition to discuss their differences and to come to agreement.”
The US State Department official went on to mention US support of the political reform steps earlier announced by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, but stressed ones that would allow equal voice for the “civil society and all peaceful political actors,” and the condition these reforms are implemented.