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Palestinians woo France and Luxembourg for UNSC majority on statehood

Support of nine Security Council members, for resolution ending Israeli presence in West Bank by Nov. 2016, would force UN veto

The United Nations Security Council meets at the UN on July 22, 2014 in New York City. (photo credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images/AFP)
The United Nations Security Council meets at the UN on July 22, 2014 in New York City. (photo credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images/AFP)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian officials said Thursday that their draft resolution setting November 2016 as the deadline for ending Israel’s occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state still doesn’t have majority backing in the UN Security Council.

The draft is part of a series of Palestinian diplomatic campaigns at the United Nations. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would present such a resolution to the 15-member Council, but did not give a date. He and his advisers would consider a nine-vote majority in favor of the resolution as a diplomatic victory even though the US is likely to veto and block such a resolution.

The draft resolution is an expression of Palestinian frustration with the repeated failure of US-led negotiations with Israel on the terms of a Palestinian state. The last round broke down in the spring, after nine months of fruitless talks in which the two sides couldn’t agree on the ground rules.

The Palestinians want to set up a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured from Jordan and Egypt in 1967. They have said they are willing to consider small border modifications, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to recognize the pre-1967 line as a basis for negotiations.

The proposed Security Council resolution would set a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal.

On Wednesday evening, Abbas met with senior members of the Palestine Liberation Organization and his Fatah movement 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, said senior PLO members Wasel Abu Yousef and Taysir Khaled.

Participants in Wednesday’s meeting opposed granting Kerry’s request, but no decision was made on when to seek a vote on the resolution. Some said it could be later this month or by mid-November.

Currently, only seven Security Council members would likely vote for the resolution, according to Khaled and Abu Yousef. Khaled said those in favor are Russia, China, Jordan, Chad, Chile, Nigeria and Argentina. He said France and Luxembourg are being courted to reach nine votes. The support of nine Security Council members would force a US veto to thwart the resolution.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, arrives at the Elysee palace to attend a meeting on October 13, 2014, in Paris. (photo credit: AFP/THOMAS SAMSON)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, arrives at the Elysee palace to attend a meeting on October 13, 2014, in Paris. (photo credit: AFP/THOMAS SAMSON)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday that any recognition of a Palestinian state must be “helpful to peace” as part of a two-state solution, and not just symbolic. A day after British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a state in a highly symbolic and non-binding vote, Fabius said France would do so only “when the time is right.”

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.

Should Kerry get the sides to the table for the first time since talks broke down in March, the move could potentially stave off the Palestinian proposal to the United Nations Security Council to set a timetable for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank. While the US is expected to veto the bid, avoiding the vote altogether would save Washington from international criticism.

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