Palestinians may push statehood bid at UN on Wednesday

Palestinians may push statehood bid at UN on Wednesday

PA official says delegation will soon hand Security Council a resolution setting timetable for Israeli withdrawal from West Bank

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)

A draft resolution calling for Palestinian statehood and a full Israeli withdrawal to the country’s pre-1967 lines within two years may be brought to the UN Security Council as early as Wednesday, a Palestinian official told the Times of Israel Tuesday. The official, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to authorize the Palestinian delegation to the UN to launch the diplomatic initiative shortly. The resolution would likely be submitted by Jordan.

Earlier, an unnamed Palestinian official described a meeting in London between chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday 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.

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.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki, however, had indicated earlier Tuesday that the PA may delay its submission of a statehood bid and would be open to adopting a revised version of the resolution.

Fatah central committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh also said Tuesday that Palestinian and French officials were coordinating and putting final touches on their own UN resolution, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

Speaking to reporters in the West Bank town of Beit Jala, 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 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 Palestinian and French proposals for UN-mandated parameters and timelines for a two-state solution.

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.

France’s diplomatic push was prompted by the more far-reaching Jordanian resolution, on behalf of the Palestinians, that demands a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within two years and full recognition of Palestine as a state, with no talk of land swaps or security measures.

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.

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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