Wed, Jan 19, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Arab nations to demand UN condemn settlements

TERRITORIAL DISPUTE:No vote is expected on the resolution for several days as Palestinian and other Arab envoys try to persuade the US not to veto it

AFP, UNITED NATIONS

Arab nations will formally put a resolution to the UN Security Council demanding a condemnation of Israel’s settlement building in Palestinian territories, envoys said yesterday.

However, no vote is expected for several days as Palestinian and other Arab negotiators try to persuade the US administration not to veto the resolution, diplomats said.

Arab envoys at the UN decided to formally register the draft resolution at the Security Council before the end of yesterday, Tunisian envoy Ghazi Jomaa, chairman of the Arab group, told reporters after their meeting.

The Security Council is to discuss the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today, but a vote then looks virtually impossible.

Lebanon is the current Arab representative on the Security Council and its ambassador, Nawaf Salam, said more meetings would be held to decide when to press for a vote.

“We will reassess the situation hour by hour,” he said.

The US traditionally vetoes resolutions that condemn Israel, even though US President Barack Obama has spoken out strongly against Israel’s settlement in the occupied territories.

“The American position has been all along that they don’t want the Security Council to be involved in this issue,” Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters.

“We tried, we are trying, we will continue to try to show that it would be very useful for the Security Council to act on this draft resolution,” Mansour added.

“And we hope that the United States of America [will] not obstruct this effort at the Security Council,” particularly after Israel’s new move to approve another 1,400 housing units in Arab East Jerusalem, the envoy said.

The Palestinians want the resolution passed to put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the settlements. They say it could lead to new direct talks.

The Palestinians halted direct talks with Israel, brokered by the US, last September after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on settlement building. Israel says the construction should be an issue discussed in direct talks.

If the US indicates that it will veto the resolution, Arab states may decide against calling for a vote to avoid a confrontation on the world stage, diplomats said.

Copies of the resolution were first distributed to the Security Council members on Dec. 17 and there have been informal contacts with the major powers since then.

The other permanent members of the Security Council — Britain, France, China and Russia — are believed to see no reason to veto the motion, and the Palestinian mission believes 14 of the 15 nations on the council would back it now.

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