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Rice briefs Jewish leaders on U.N. drive

JTA

September 16, 2011 | 11:17 am

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice briefed a dozen American Jewish leaders on the American efforts to avert the Palestinian bid for statehood in the U.N.

Three sources who attended the Thursday meeting told Politico that the U.S. is resigned to the measure passing the General Assembly, but is whipping votes to cut into its margin of victory.

“She didn’t have a starry-eyed approach,” one of the Jewish leaders told Politico. “There’s an awareness both on her part and on our part that assuming that the Palestinians go ahead with the resolution it’s going to pass the General Assembly and it’s going to pass by a comfortable margin.”

The U.S. has promised to veto the bill when it comes before the Security Council, but, according to sources at the meeting, Rice is also attempting to convince other Security Council members to abstain from voting and deny the measure the nine of fifteen votes it requires to pass the Security Council.

The sources described the meeting to Politico as warm, with Malcom Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an oft-times critic of the Obama administration, reportedly telling Rice that the administration deserves more credit for its work on the issue.

The attendees, a source told Politico, were Lee Rosenberg of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; the World Jewish Congress’s Ronald Lauder; the American Jewish Committee’s David Harris; the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman; Hoenlein; Daniel Mariaschin of B’nai B’rith International; Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs; Americans for Peace Now’s Martin Bresler; J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami; Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Union for Reform Judaism;  Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly; and Rabbi Steven Weil of the Orthodox Union.

Later in the day, Rice briefed a small group of journalists from Jewish media outlets, including the JTA, and denied that the U.S. is working to create a toned-down draft of the U.N. resolution on Palestinian statehood.

“We’re not negotiating any text, we’re not engaged in efforts to water down a text,” Rice said Thursday in the briefing. “We’re making the case that this is not a productive course.”

Rice dismissed as false rumors that a draft text even exists, but she said the Europeans were talking with the Palestinians about the substance of a resolution.

“There is no Palestinian text yet,” she said. “Nobody in New York has seen one.”

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