"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 12, 2011
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney and OMB Director Jack Lew, 9/12/2011
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:25 P.M. EDT
Q Thank you. I wanted to switch gears to foreign policy for a second. Writing in today’s New York Times, Turki Al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., talked about the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the U.N. and the U.S. opposition to it and said that if the U.S. doesn't support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N., “Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has.” He said U.S. influence would decline. Israeli security would be undermined. Iran would be empowered and that the Saudis would switch gears on Iraq and maybe Afghanistan and Yemen. So we’ve talked before in the briefing about the U.S. position that the U.N. vote is not the right way to go, that direct negotiations are the right way to go. Is the U.S. concerned about how the Saudis will react? And what are you doing both publicly and behind the scenes to try to prevent everything he foreshadows in here?
MR. CARNEY: I’ll say two things. First of all, we obviously have a lot of important relationships in the region and around the world with countries that care very deeply about this issue, and we will continue to handle those relationships with the -- mindful of the importance that they have for us.
But we’ve been very clear about the fact that the only realistic path for the Palestinians to realize their aspirations is through direct negotiations. A unilateral effort -- Palestinian effort to achieve statehood at the U.N. would be counterproductive. Even if these actions are well intentioned, they will not achieve statehood. And they will -- and for that reason, we continue to make clear that we oppose it, and we continue to make clear that we believe that both sides need to return to direct negotiations. That is the only path to the kind of solution that the Palestinians rightfully want and that the Israelis rightfully want. You have to do it through direct negotiations. You won’t get it through the U.N.
Q Do you believe that what he talks about are things that could happen? And what are you doing to try to react since --
MR. CARNEY: Again, I don't have any specifics with regard to an individual bilateral relationship we have. Again, there are a lot of countries in the region and the world who understandably have a specific interest in this, and we share that interest. And we work with our partners bilaterally and multilaterally to address this issue. We are very convinced that the only way that the Palestinians will achieve their aspirations is through direct negotiations.
Q Just following on that, given the fact that Prince Turki has been -- has billed himself in the past as a great friend of the United States, and the President has made great efforts to reach out to the Muslim world, are you not concerned, whatever the merits of the Palestinian case, that a U.S. veto would cause great harm to U.S. foreign policy in the Arab world? And does the White House still believe that it could be possible to come to some kind of solution that would convince the Palestinians not to necessarily go all the way to the Security Council next week?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don't want to predict ahead of time what will or won’t happen next week, and I’m just going to restate what I said in answer to the previous question.
We obviously take these relationships very seriously. We take concerns expressed by our friends and partners around the world very seriously, but we are absolutely convinced that trying to achieve statehood through the U.N. is counterproductive and that it will not allow the Palestinians to achieve their aspirations.
1:18 P.M. EDT