Fears of new resolution dulled, UN Security Council to gather Tuesday

Jerusalem’s concerns that Paris confab could lead to fresh anti-Israel move faded with Kerry reassurances to Netanyahu

Illustrative: The UN Security Council meeting on December 31, 2016, at the UN Headquarters  in New York. (AFP/Kena Betancur)
Illustrative: The UN Security Council meeting on December 31, 2016, at the UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP/Kena Betancur)

The United Nations Security Council is set to meet Tuesday to discuss “the Palestinian question” in the wake of a mounting campaign in world bodies to restart stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel’s envoy to the world body, Danny Danon, will address the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. local time at UN headquarters in New York (5 p.m. Israel time).

The gathering comes two days after a one-day peace conference in Paris with representatives from over 70 countries – but not Israel or the Palestinian Authority, and amid fears in Jerusalem the meeting could be used to field another resolution critical of Israel — following the adoption of a resolution last month that flogged the settlement enterprise.

Last week, Danon said the Tuesday Security Council meet would mark “an attempt to promote a last-minute initiative before the new US administration takes office.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said diplomats were working to thwart an additional Security Council resolution at the Tuesday meeting.

“The Paris Conference is irrelevant,” he said. “But there are signs that they are trying to turn decisions made there into another Security Council resolution, and that is no longer irrelevant.”

There are more than a few indications for that, Netanyahu added, without elaborating.

Those concerns have been dampened somewhat over the last two days by US support for a softened text in Paris, London’s refusal to sign on to that document and promises from Washington that the Obama administration won’t allow another anti-Israel resolution during its last days in office.

It is not clear what might come from the meeting, the first on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the body’s 15 member states passed Resolution 2334, drawing a furious reaction from Jerusalem, including against the US, which abstained rather than vetoing the measure.

The December 23 resolution lashed Israel for its settlements policy, calling Israel’s civilian presence beyond the pre-1967 Green Line a “flagrant violation” of international law.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry told Netanyahu in a phone call from Paris that the US would not countenance any new measures against Israel at the Security Council ahead of the Friday inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Israel’s new Foreign Ministry chief, Yuval Rotem, on Monday hailed what he described as the lackluster outcome of the Paris conference, calling it a victory for Israel and saying Jerusalem’s decision not to show up sent a message to the international community.

“The fact that the Paris conference has no followup is from our perspective the most meaningful accomplishment,” Rotem told Israel Radio.

The Paris summit was the second such gathering in the past year to be hosted by France with the aim of setting a concrete agenda for renewed peace efforts.

The meeting’s concluding statement imposed “no new obligations” on Israel and “finished without any mechanism to apply or follow up” on the provisions it laid out for achieving peace, Rotem said.

Netanyahu dismissed the Paris meeting as “a rigged conference, rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances.”

Sunday’s peace conference and December’s Resolution 2334 only further “encourage the Palestinians to refuse direct negotiations with Israel,” Rotem said.

Israeli leaders were scathing in their criticism of the December UN resolution, with Netanyahu noting that it attempted to define as illegal the presence of Jews in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City of Jerusalem, as well as Israel’s presence at the Temple Mount holy site.

The resolution led to a final dust-up between the administrations of Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama after the US pointedly declined to veto the resolution, allowing its passage.

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