Palestinians to press UN statehood bid Wednesday
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Palestinians to press UN statehood bid Wednesday

Despite US threat to veto, PA officials say draft resolution setting timetable for Israeli withdrawal to pre-67 lines going ahead

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Abbas Momani)

The Palestinians will press ahead Wednesday with a UN bid to boost their hopes of statehood, despite a warning that the US will block the move, officials said.

“We will submit our project to the UN Security Council tomorrow,” a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told AFP late Tuesday.

The draft resolution calls for Palestinian statehood and a full Israeli withdrawal to the country’s pre-1967 lines within two years. The resolution is likely to be submitted by Jordan.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has held three days of intense talks in Europe seeking to head off a pre-Christmas crisis at the UN Security Council.

An unnamed Palestinian official described a meeting in London between chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and US Secretary of State John Kerry as “difficult.” During the meeting, Kerry asked the Palestinian delegation not to rush ahead with the demand for a two-year timetable, and, according to the source, indicated the US would veto the resolution at the Security Council if it called for a timetable for Israel’s withdrawal, Ynet reported. The US position is not to automatically veto any resolution, the report said, but it will veto a resolution that seeks to determine the result of negotiations before those negotiations are concluded.

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in London (photo credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in London (photo credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Erekat reportedly told Kerry that Israel’s attitude to the Palestinians had left them no choice but to seek statehood via the UN, and said that if the US vetoed the resolution they would seek to join numerous UN and other international organizations en route to statehood.

They include the International Criminal Court, another move opposed by Washington which fears the Palestinians will seek to try Israeli officials for alleged war crimes.

There have been reports of competing Arab-backed and French-led resolutions — with the Palestinians pushing one that would set a two-year deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank,  with no talk of land swaps or security measures.

While France still hasn’t formally introduced its proposal, it is expected to call for the setting of the 1967 lines as the basis for dividing the land. There have been mixed reports as to whether it will include key Israeli — and US — conditions such as Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Support for the French draft even within Europe is uncertain, despite a series of parliamentary votes across the continent recognizing a Palestinian state. Countries are divided over the idea of setting a 2016 deadline, with Germany particularly reluctant, diplomats said.

But Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of Abbas’s inner circle, said France had “accommodated” the Palestinians.

“We have merged. We don’t have two texts now. There is one single text. We have happily accepted the French text when the modifications have been added,” he said, without elaborating.

Earlier, Shtayyeh had said that Palestinian and French officials were coordinating and putting final touches on their own UN resolution, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

Asked what kind of resolution Washington might be able to support at the UN, Kerry insisted the US administration has “made no determinations… about language, approaches, specific resolutions, any of that.”

“What we’re trying to do is have a constructive conversation with everybody to find the best way to go forward,” Kerry added.

“We want to find the most constructive way of doing something that… will not have unintended consequences, but also can stem the violence.”

Speaking to reporters in the West Bank town of Beit Jala earlier, Shtayyeh said that “the United States does not want a Palestinian state, and does not want to use the veto either.”

“It is avoiding it by preventing us from collecting nine votes,” he added.

The support of nine out of the 15 Security Council members is needed to pass a resolution. However, each of the five permanent members, the US among them, has the right to veto any decision taken by the majority.

On Monday, Erekat told a Nazareth-based radio station that the Palestinians have yet to secure the necessary nine votes from the 15-member council, according to Haaretz.

Kerry’s Tuesday meeting with Erekat came a day after the secretary’s conversation in Rome with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took a hard line against both the Palestinian and French proposals for UN-mandated parameters and timelines for a two-state solution.

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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