At U.N., Obama Faces Palestinian Challenge The president lauded the international community Tuesday for its unified effort on Libya. But on Wednesday the prospect of the Palestinians seeking U.N. recognition of their statehood could throw a wrench into the administration's diplomatic works. Although the U.S. says it will veto such a move, it faces criticism from some allies.
NPR logo

At U.N., Obama Faces Palestinian Challenge

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/140655094/140658284" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
At U.N., Obama Faces Palestinian Challenge

At U.N., Obama Faces Palestinian Challenge

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/140655094/140658284" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene in Washington.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And NPR's Ari Shapiro is here to talk about it. Good morning, Ari.

ARI SHAPIRO: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What makes this so awkward for the president?

SHAPIRO: For example, yesterday, President Obama met with the Turkey's prime minister. Turkey is one of the main American allies who supports the Palestinians. But when reporters were in the room at the beginning of that meeting, neither man said a word about Palestine. According to White House officials, they talked about it, but only behind closed doors after the reporters had left.

INSKEEP: So, behind closed doors, you have the president with the same difficulty that he tried to transcend at the beginning of his administration, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. That's what's happening behind closed doors, what about on the public agenda?

SHAPIRO: Well, the day began yesterday, with an issue, where, in contrast to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, President Obama congratulated the international community on presenting a unified front and getting a positive result.

BARACK OBAMA: Libya is a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one.

SHAPIRO: Representatives from more than 60 governments gathered in a huge U.N. conference room to create a plan for post-Gadhafi Libya.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SHAPIRO: The crowd gave a standing ovation when the U.N. and Libyan flags were presented side-by-side on the podium.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SHAPIRO: President Obama framed this as a moment of vindication. Domestic critics had attacked his approach to Libya for months. But addressing the U.N. yesterday, the president said Libya's freedom today affirms his approach to global problems, emphasizing shared international responsibility.

OBAMA: Today I can announce that our ambassador is on his way back to Tripoli. And this week, the American flag that was lowered before our embassy was attacked, will be raised again over a reopened American Embassy.

SHAPIRO: Mr. Obama, standing on the opposite side of the room from reporters with their microphones, promised that such violence will not change the U.S. mission.

OBAMA: Despite this incident, we will not be deterred from creating a path whereby Afghans can live in freedom and safety and security and prosperity.

SHAPIRO: He will speak to the enormous convulsions and transformation of the last year - whether it be the Arab Spring, whether it be South Sudan joining the United Nations, and of course the Libya operation which really, again, represents precisely the type of international cooperation that the president believes the United Nations was created to do.

INSKEEP: And, Ari, talking about all those complexities, all those convulsions, and yet some of the same old conflicts.

SHAPIRO: Today is President Obama's chance to explain why he holds the position he does. Then he's going to have individual meetings with Israeli leader Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Abbas, and perhaps dream of the day when he might meet with both at once.

INSKEEP: Ari, thanks very much. We'll hear how the President charts a course between those two in his speech today.

SHAPIRO: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: NPR's Ari Shapiro here in New York.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.