Thu, Dec 18, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Palestinians push ahead with UN draft resolution

AFP, UNITED NATIONS

The Palestinians yesterday were to push with a draft UN resolution demanding an end to Israeli occupation despite warnings the US is ready to veto the measure.

An Arab-backed text setting November 2016 as the deadline for an Israeli withdrawal was to be formally submitted to the UN Security Council. The 15-member council is to vote at a later date.

The decision follows the latest series of meetings between US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian negotiators and European ministers.

Kerry suggested a UN resolution could play into the hands of Israeli hardliners as the country heads toward elections in March.

“Many of us share a deep sense of urgency about this,” he said. “But we’re also very mindful that we have to carefully calibrate any steps that are taken for this difficult moment in the region.”

The Palestinians began circulating a draft at the end of September, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly that it was time to fast-track Palestinian statehood.

The text, put forward by the Arab group, calls for “the full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.”

This should be completed “as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed within a specified timeframe, not to exceed November 2016,” it said.

Diplomats said the text stands no chance of approval, but the Palestinians want to jolt the Security Council into action to address the worsening Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The big question mark remains the US, which is reluctant to back any UN resolution that would anger close ally Israel.

“If we do not succeed, the Palestinian people are not going to go away. The Palestinian question is not going to evaporate,” Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said earlier this week. “We will be entering into a new stage.”

In the latest sign of the mounting tension, Mansour warned of more confrontation on the ground and said the Palestinians were ready to take action at the General Assembly and at the International Criminal Court to gain recognition and justice.

“We are better equipped today to defend our cause in the international arena than before,” Mansour said.

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