Palestinians mull resubmitting statehood bid to UN

New non-permanent Security Council members may tip the scales if another vote is held, PA believes

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, right, votes during a meeting of the UN Security Council Tuesday, December 30, 2014 (Photo credit: Frank Franklin II/AP)
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, right, votes during a meeting of the UN Security Council Tuesday, December 30, 2014 (Photo credit: Frank Franklin II/AP)

The Palestinian Authority is considering resubmitting its resolution on Palestinian statehood to the UN Security Council, days after it was rejected on Tuesday for not getting the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption by the 15-member council.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Saturday, following a Palestinian leadership meeting, that the matter was being weighed, given the new make-up of the Security Council which went into effect on January 1.

Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela and Spain joined the UN body as non-permanent members Thursday, alongside Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria whose terms end in 2015. With the five permanent members — the US, UK, France, Russia and China — they now make up the 15-member council.

Given the new members who are deemed by the Palestinians as being more sympathetic, the PA may once again push the resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by 2017 and a 12-month deadline for negotiations on a final peace deal.

Following the failed bid on Tuesday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas instructed Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and Palestinian ambassadors to hold talks with the governments of countries that abstained or voted against the bid, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Abbas’s office released a statement saying the Palestinian leadership “keeps taking effort at political and diplomatic levels to attain a UN Security Council’s adoption of a resolution which lays down principles and basic clauses which will lead to the end to occupation, fair and well-coordinated settlement of the problem of refugees under UN Security Council Resolution 194 and the Arab peace initiative as well as the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with the capital in East Jerusalem which would live in peace and security near Israel and other regional countries.”

A day after the bid was defeated, Abbas signed the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and filed a request to become a member state. On Friday, the Palestinians officially submitted documents to the United Nations to join the ICC, moving forward with the bureaucracy that will soon enable them to pursue war crime charges against Israel, which has threatened to retaliate with counter-suits. The move also risks prompting the US to cut off funding to the PA to the tune of $400 per year.

France, China, Russia, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg supported the resolution on Tuesday, while Australia and the United States voted against. Britain, Lithuania, Nigeria, South Korea and Rwanda abstained.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat indicated following the failed bid that the PA could return again to the Security Council.

Until shortly before the vote, council diplomats had expected the resolution to get nine “yes” votes. Had this been the case, the US would likely have used its veto to block the resolution. But Nigeria, which had been expected to vote “yes,” abstained at the last minute, leaving the Palestinian Authority one vote short of the required number.

Nigeria’s ambassador, U. Joy Ogwu, echoed the US position saying the ultimate path to peace lies “in a negotiated solution.”

A US veto would have risked angering key Arab allies, including partners in the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Israel was quick to capitalize on its diplomatic victory over the Palestinian Authority, 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 a “provocation.” The Palestinians, meanwhile, lamented what they called the paralysis of the council.

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.”

The US has insisted on a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, not an imposed timetable. Kerry had held a series of telephone conversations over the previous 48 hours before the vote with the foreign ministers of Britain, Chile, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Russia and Saudi Arabia. He also spoke with Rwanda’s president and Abbas.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters in Washington that many countries shared the US sentiment that the resolution was “unconstructive and poorly timed.”

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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