Palestinians to turn to Security Council by end of month
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Palestinians to turn to Security Council by end of month

PLO head says Ramallah rebuffs US request to hold off on UN resolution setting Israeli withdrawal deadline

Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, right, gestures towards UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon during a press conference following his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 13, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, right, gestures towards UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon during a press conference following his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 13, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinians will submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council by the end of October demanding the end of Israel’s occupation, a senior official said on Thursday.

The Palestinians have been under intense pressure not to push forward with the resolution — including with alleged threats of cuts in US aid — but Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Yasser Abed Rabbo said a decision was made late Wednesday to push ahead.

“The political council of the PLO decided during its meeting last night… to go to the UN Security Council with the aim of getting a resolution passed to end the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories… by the end of this month,” he said.

Voting could take place “two weeks or more after the request is presented,” Abed Rabbo told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “There is no excuse for a delay.”

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Abed Rabbo speaks to journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 16, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Abbas Momani)
Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Abed Rabbo speaks to journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 16, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Abbas Momani)

The meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and senior PLO and Fatah officials was called Wednesday night in Ramallah to discuss a request by US Secretary of State John Kerry to put off any Security Council initiative until the beginning of next year, participants said.

Kerry made the request in a meeting with Abbas earlier this week, according to senior PLO members Wasel Abu-Youssef and Tayseer Khaled.

Since the collapse of US-led peace talks with Israel in April, the Palestinians have been pursuing a new diplomatic path to independence via the United Nations and by joining international organizations.

The Palestinians won the status of UN observer state in 2012.

A draft of the resolution obtained by AFP earlier this month calls for the “full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed within a specified time frame, not to exceed November 2016.”

An initiative in the Security Council is sure to meet opposition from the United States, which has repeatedly vetoed resolutions seen as undermining Israel.

Abbas confirmed that Kerry had approached him about putting off the Security Council bid, and said if the US exercised its veto, Ramallah would turn to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to prosecute Israelis for war crimes, Israel Radio reported.

Abed Rabbo said he hoped the draft would at least survive long enough to be debated by the 15-member council, even if its chances of being carried were slim.

Palestinian officials said Thursday that their draft resolution still doesn’t have majority backing in the UN Security Council. It would likely be vetoed by the US, but Ramallah would still consider a nine-vote majority in favor of the resolution as a diplomatic victory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday that a Palestinian diplomatic offensive would “undermine” peace efforts.

Abbas said earlier this month that the Palestinians are risking $700 million a year in US aid by pursuing the resolution.

He warned the Palestinians could also seek to join the International Criminal Court, where they could sue Israeli officials over allegations of war crimes.

Reports in Israel on Wednesday said the US is looking to get Israel to agree to renew peace talks with the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines, as a way of checking Ramallah’s UN bid for statehood.

Kerry recently asked Netanyahu if he would return to the negotiating table for discussions with the Palestinians on the basis on the 1967 ceasefire lines, with agreed-upon land swaps, the Haaretz daily reported, citing unnamed diplomatic officials.

On Thursday, Kerry said it was “imperative to get peace talks back on track,” saying the conflict was fueling the spread of Islamist terror in the Middle East.

“There wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation,” added the secretary of state.

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