Israel was quick to capitalize on its diplomatic victory over the Palestinian Authority at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, with its envoy calling PA conduct at the UN a “march of folly” and its effort to win UN support for a peace deal within a year and an imposed Israeli withdrawal within three years a “provocation.” The Palestinians, meanwhile, lamented what they called the paralysis of the council.
The Security Council on Tuesday rejected a resolution on Palestinian statehood, with the Palestinians failing to get the minimum nine “yes” votes (required for either adoption by the 15-member council or to prompt a possible veto by one of the five permanent members): Eight voted for the resolution and two voted against, with five abstentions.
“The Palestinians seek — and find — every opportunity to avoid direct negotiations and to walk circumventing paths,” Israel Nitzan of the Israeli mission to the UN said in a short statement. “We’ve become accustomed to their political maneuvers. But today they surpassed themselves by going all the way to the Security Council to make a mockery of it with embarrassing resolutions.
“We have news for the Palestinians – the way to achieve statehood is not paved with provocations,” he said.
The Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour said following the vote that Palestinian leaders would be meeting Wednesday “and will decide on (the) next steps.”
“Our effort was a serious effort, genuine effort, to open the door for peace,” said Mansour. “Unfortunately, the Security Council is not ready to listen to that message.”
“It is most regretful that the Security Council remained paralyzed,” he added.
Before the vote, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinians can return again to the Security Council, which will have five new members starting Thursday who are viewed as more sympathetic to their cause.
Jordan’s UN Ambassador Dina Kawar, the Arab representative on the Security Council, said after the vote: “The fact that this draft resolution was not adopted will not at all prevent us from proceeding to push the international community, specifically the United Nations, towards an effective involvement to achieving a resolution to this conflict.”
US Ambassador Samantha Power said: “We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because … peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table.”
She criticized the decision to bring the draft resolution to a vote as a “staged confrontation that will not bring the parties closer.” She added that the resolution was “deeply unbalanced” and didn’t take into account Israel’s security concerns.
“We will continue to oppose actions by both sides that we view as detrimental to the cause of peace, whether those actions come in the form of settlement activity or imbalanced draft resolutions in this council,” she said.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, a strong supporter of the resolution, took issue with the US and others who said it undermined prospects for negotiations.
“Unfortunately, last year revealed that this process … has gone into a blind alley, with its monopolization by the United States, and their pull-back from the Quartet” of Mideast mediators that also includes Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, he said.
“We believe this to be a strategic mistake,” Churkin said, “just as casting off our proposals to do brainstorming in the council in order to determine ways to reinvigorate the negotiating process, including sending to the Middle East a council mission.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the vote “underlines once again the urgency of resuming meaningful negotiations between the parties and the need for the international community to focus on concrete achievements” to reach a final settlement.
She added: “The European Union believes that setting clear parameters for the negotiations is key for their success.”
The defeated resolution would have affirmed the urgent need to achieve “a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict within 12 months and set a December 31, 2017 deadline for Israel’s occupation to end.
It also called for an independent state of Palestine to be established within the 1967 Middle East borders and demanded “a just solution” to all other outstanding issues, including Palestinian refugees, prisoners in Israeli jails and water.
According to Haaretz, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor and his deputy David Roth were not at the UN at all during the vote, but were visiting Israel for a conference. Perhaps a mark of Israel’s disdain for the Security Council’s contemplation of the Palestinian resolution, the absence was nevertheless labeled by one senior diplomat as “utter stupidity.”