Obama `warned of repercussions` if Abbas goes to UN

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas defied US attempts to get him to abandon a UN Security Council vote against Israeli settlements.

Ramallah: Palestinian
President Mahmud Abbas on Friday defied US attempts to get him to
abandon a UN Security Council vote against Israeli settlements
after being threatened with repercussions if he did not, his
aides said.

His office said he rejected a White House proposal to
stop pushing for a formal resolution condemning settlements
and accept instead a non-binding statement calling on Israel
to freeze construction on land the Palestinians claim for a

His response was given today during a telephone call
between the Palestinian leader and US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, the office said.

"There is no change in the Palestinian and Arab
position about the proposal presented to the UN Security
Council condemning Israeli settlement on Palestinian land," it

One senior Palestinian official, speaking on condition
of anonymity, said to a news agency the offer, made in an hour-long
telephone call from US President Barack Obama, was accompanied
by veiled threats of "repercussions" if it were refused.

"President Obama threatened on Thursday night to take
measures against the Palestinian Authority if it insists on
going to the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlement
activity, and demand that it be stopped," the official said.

"There will be repercussions for Palestinian-American
relations if you continue your attempts to go to the Security
Council and ignore our requests in this matter, especially as
we suggested other alternatives," the official quoted Obama as
telling Abbas.

The US president was referring to a package of
incentives laid out earlier this week aimed at persuading the
Palestinians to withdraw their support for the draft
resolution, which is to be put before the Security Council
later today.

Despite his decision, Abbas was meeting this evening
in Ramallah with the executive committee of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the central committee of his
Fatah movement to discuss the latest developments.

The draft condemns Israeli settlement activity in line
with the policy of the international community, including the
United States -- but Washington does not believe such issues
should be tackled within the Security Council.

After the Palestinians rejected the initial US offer,
Obama rang Abbas late on Thursday to suggest that the Security
Council make a call for a settlement freeze.

During the conversation, Abbas rejected that proposal

"Stopping settlement activity is a Palestinian demand
that will not be taken back because it was the reason the
peace process fell apart," the Palestinian official quoted him
as saying.

"It was a decision taken by the Palestinian leadership
and the Palestinian people are sticking to this demand."


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