Netanyahu: U.N. Opposition to Israel Is ‘Automatic’

Fred Lucas | September 21, 2011 | 2:11pm EDT
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Oliver Weiken, Pool)

( – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said any anti-Israel motion in the United Nations has an “automatic majority,” and he praised President Barack Obama for vowing to veto U.N.-imposed Palestinian statehood.

“We both agree that Palestinians and Israelis should sit down and negotiate,” Netanyahu said to Obama at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. “I think this is the only way to get a stable and durable peace.

“Now, I know that these leaders are under enormous pressure, and I know that they’re also – and this – from personal experience, I can tell you the automatic majority is against Israel,” Netanyahu said of the U.N.

“But I think that standing your ground, taking this position of principle – which is also, I think, the right position to achieve peace – I think this is a – this is a badge of honor. And I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor, and also, I would express my hope that others will follow your example, Mr. President,” he added.

The U.S.-Israel relationship has been chilled for the past few years, particularly since Obama in May called for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders.

Obama held a joint appearance with Netanyahu right after speaking to the U.N. gathering. He was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas later Wednesday in hopes of persuading him not to make a motion to the international body to recognize a Palestinian state.

Under the motion before the U.N. General Assembly, Israel would have to accept its pre-1967 borders with land exchanges as the basis for a two-state solution, and the Palestinians would have to recognize Israel’s Jewish character if they were to reach a deal quickly, officials close to the talks said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing diplomacy.

“Recent events in the region remind us of how fragile peace can be, and why the pursuit of Middle East peace is more urgent than ever,” Obama said. “But as we pursue that peace, I know that the Prime Minister recognizes that America’s commitment to Israel will never waver, and that our pursuit of a just and lasting peace is one that is not only compatible, but we think puts Israel’s security at the forefront.”

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