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Obama veto of Palestinian statehood: What can he do after that?

A Palestinian bid for statehood recognition by the UN Security Council will be vetoed by the US. Afterward, President Obama must rebuild his vision for a new style of American leadership in the Middle East.

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During his nearly three years in office, President Obama has tried a new type of American leadership in the Middle East, one that is more moral than muscular, less unilaterally assertive and more humbly collaborative.

While he’s been mostly successful and consistent, all that may now be viewed in the region as meaningless if the United States effectively vetoes a request by the Palestinians for the United Nations Security Council to recognize their homeland as a state.

Palestinian leaders admit that their bid for UN recognition won’t create a state but may at least bring some parity with Israel in any negotiations. It will also provide symbolic hope for their despondent people, who are witnessing the dawn of liberty in other Arab lands.

Nonetheless, an Obama veto at the UN will be seen as a slap to those Palestinian aspirations. And it would allow Arabs to confirm their view that Israel commands a tight hold on American politicians through domestic lobbies and campaign money.

Once the veto is cast, the president must then try to restore his style of moral leadership. Anticipating that difficult task, Mr. Obama used his speech Wednesday before the UN General Assembly to remind the world of his plans to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, his role in ousting Muammar Qaddafi and continuing support for Libya, and his actions to further help the Arab Spring’s drive for democracy.

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