France preparing draft for UN resolution on Palestine

Official says US frustration with Netanyahu could offer ‘backdoor’ for talks; bid would designate Jerusalem as shared capital

The UN Security Council voting on a resolution on Palestinian statehood on December 30, 2014. The resolution was voted down. (UN/Evan Schneider)
The UN Security Council voting on a resolution on Palestinian statehood on December 30, 2014. The resolution was voted down. (UN/Evan Schneider)

PARIS (AP) — France sees a window of opportunity after Israel’s elections to get the United States on board with a new push for Mideast peace, and is preparing a draft UN Security Council resolution in about 12 days, according to French diplomatic officials.

The draft would define the pre-1967 frontier as a reference point for border talks but allow room for exchanges of territory, designate Jerusalem as capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state and call for a fair solution for Palestinian refugees, one official told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

While the substance of the French draft may not differ much from past failed efforts to revive Mideast peace talks, France is hoping this time to avoid a US veto at the UN because of increasing American frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The French official described a possible “backdoor” for negotiations now, and said “all actors including the Americans now realize that all other ways have been explored, without success.”

After Netanyahu’s election win and tough campaign comments against Palestinian statehood, the White House said it would reevaluate the approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The French official praised the “pretty clear message sent by the Americans.”

France is hoping to be able to present a resolution proposal in about a dozen days, the official said. The resolution would aim at presenting a framework for negotiations toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Another French official said France is working with the US to gain backing for the new peace effort. France is also seeking support from European and Arab partners.

Neither official was authorized to be publicly named. They both declined to provide more details on the possible sticking points in the negotiations.

The weight of a Security Council resolution, which is legally binding, would add to international pressure on Israel.

Last year, the council rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding an end to Israeli occupation within three years. The US opposed that draft, saying Palestinian statehood can only be achieved through negotiations with Israel, not an imposed timetable.

Even if a new resolution were to avoid a US veto and win UN backing, its prospects are unclear. Israel remains opposed to returning to the 1967 borders, and insists that any peace process should include recognition of a Jewish state. France’s proposal currently doesn’t include mention of Israel as a Jewish state, one official said.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said last week France will move forward on discussions with its partners.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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