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Congressman: US ready to veto recognition bid

Aug. 10, 2011 4:31 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2011 10:28 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- US representative Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that the Obama administration would use its veto at the UN Security Council if Palestinians move forward with a bid for recognition in September.

Hoyer, the Democratic Whip of the House of Representatives, is in the region leading a congressional delegation sponsored by a pro-Israel lobby group, the AIPAC-backed America-Israel Education Foundation.

Meeting with Israel's president Shimon Peres, Hoyer handed over a signed resolution affirming "unyielding" support for Israel and calling on the Palestinians to return to negotiations, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Hoyer said the resolution put the US on record as being opposed to a United Nations unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, because such a declaration was not a "positive step," the Post report said.

The US would use its right of veto in the UN Security Council if necessary, he said.

In response, Peres said he would "never forget this bi-partisan support."

Citing personal conversations with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Peres said they were not fully committed to the initiative "because to have an empty declaration is just an extension of the debate."

Completing a unity deal with Hamas would also threaten donor assistance, he added.

Also Wednesday, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported that a Palestinian leader jailed in Israel has warned Washington that vetoing a state at the United Nations would spark huge regional protests.

Marwan Barghouti, a leading member of the dominant Fatah party convicted of organizing attacks against Israelis during the second intifada, gave an interview to MENA through his lawyer from an Israeli prison.

"Voting against the Palestinian state would be a historic, deadly mistake in the record of US President Barack Obama, in whom there was hope for change," he said of plans to ask the United Nations for recognition.

"Such a veto will be confronted by millions-strong protests throughout the Arab and Muslim world, indeed throughout the whole world," Barghouti was quoted as saying.

Obama's push for an elusive peace deal has foundered on Israel's refusal to stop expanding Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, occupied since 1967.

The Palestinians have so far sat out on regional anti-regime demonstrations, but they have staged lengthy uprisings twice in the past three decades which Israeli intelligence services failed to predict.

AFP contributed to this report.
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