Matti Friedman
Associated Press
July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian attempt to gain U.N. recognition without a peace agreement with Israel means "next to nothing" even if it succeeds, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said Friday.

John Bolton, who served as a U.N. envoy for the Bush administration, said the General Assembly is certain to support the current Palestinian effort to win backing for a unilateral declaration of a state in September. But he said it will be meaningless without approval in the Security Council, where it almost certainly faces a U.S. veto.

Visiting Israel on Friday, Bolton said Israel and the U.S. should "not to take it so seriously."

"You don't want to invest authority and legitimacy in something that doesn't have authority and legitimacy," Bolton said. The significance of the move, "as a practical matter, is next to nothing," he said.

Despite U.S. opposition, the Palestinian Authority plans to seek U.N. recognition in September after prolonged deadlock in peace talks. The initiative was officially endorsed Thursday by the Arab League.

The U.S. and Israel say a Mideast peace deal and Palestinian independence should come about only through talks. Both Israel and the Palestinians have launched international lobbying campaigns to drum up support for their respective positions.

Bolton is in Israel along with other members of the Friends of Israel Initiative, a group founded last year by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

Also Friday, rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and retaliatory airstrikes by Israel marked a new spike in violence in and around the coastal territory.

Militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza have increased rocket fire at Israeli towns in recent weeks, and Israeli jets carried out a number of attacks on smuggling tunnels and Hamas facilities late Thursday and early Friday in response. Several people were lightly wounded, Gaza's Health Ministry said.


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