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Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations (file photo)

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations (file photo)

The United States has objected to the presence of a senior Palestinian official sitting behind a nameplate that read ‘State of Palestine’ at the United Nations Security Council. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, expressed Washington’s disapproval of the latest move by Palestinians to capitalize on their upgraded UN status as Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki spoke at the Security Council on Wednesday. It was the first Palestinian address to the Council since the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of Palestine to non-member observer state on November 29, 2012. Rice said Washington did not recognize the General Assembly vote “as bestowing Palestinian statehood or recognition.” “Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome,” Rice added. “Therefore, in our view, any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’ in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that ‘Palestine’ is a state.” Nine countries, including Canada and the United States, out of 193 voted against the Palestinian upgrade. The UN vote is seen as a long-sought victory for Palestinians, but an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States. Meanwhile, Canadian Ambassador to the UN Guillermo E. Rishchynski said permitting the Palestinians to sit behind the ‘State of Palestine’ nameplate at the Council “creates a misleading impression.” Rishchynski added that Canada would oppose Palestinians’ efforts to upgrade their status in symbolic ways. During his speech at the Council, the Palestinian Authority foreign minister said Palestinians would take legal action against the Israeli regime at the International Criminal Court if Tel Aviv built new settler units on the occupied Palestinian land. MKA/HSN/MA