A major showdown is expected at the United Nations starting today, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continues his push for full U.N. statehood. In just a few hours, President Obama will address the General Assembly. Advisers say the President will focus on the lack of progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue he made a priority when taking office. Following the address, President Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House also announced last night that the President has added a meeting with Abbas to his schedule today…in a last-ditch effort to dissuade him from seeking U.N. recognition at the Security Council. The ongoing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians stems from the expansion of Israeli settlements and border disagreements. The United States and European allies are trying to delay the U.N. Security Council vote on Palestinian membership beyond this week. It comes as the Obama administration is pledging to veto any Palestinian statehood bid, arguing that only direct peace negotiations, and not a U.N. vote, would allow the Palestinians to achieve the benefits of statehood. However, President Obama had a different message when speaking about the issue last year at the General Assembly. He said, “This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations. An independent sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.”
Along with President Obama, Texas Governor Rick Perry was also in New York City yesterday, slamming the President’s “policy of appeasement” in the Middle East. He said, ”we would not be here today at this precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the middle east wasn’t naive, and arrogant, misguided and dangerous.” Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Perry’s chief rival in the 2012 Republican race, also went after President Obama’s foreign policy yesterday, accusing him of “throwing Israel under the bus.” Romney addressed the President’s upcoming remarks at the U.N. In a statement, he said in part, “[President Obama] must make clear that if the Palestinian authority succeeds in gaining any type of U.N. recognition, the United States will cut foreign assistance to the Palestinians, as well as re-evaluate its funding of U.N. programs and its relationship with any nation voting in favor of recognition.” House Republican leaders are also calling on the U.S. to cut off aid if there is any type of Palestinian recognition at the U.N. It comes as a new Pew Research/Washington Post poll shows that Americans have mixed opinions on a possible independent Palestinian state. 42% say that the United States should recognize it as an independent nation, while 26% say no and 32% say they don’t know.