‘Technicalities’ delay Abbas’s West Bank pullout resolution

Palestinian source says PA president will likely submit demand for 3-year Israeli withdrawal in next two weeks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on July 22, 2014 in the West Bank city of Ramallah (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on July 22, 2014 in the West Bank city of Ramallah (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas didn’t submit a resolution to the UN Security Council seeking a three-year timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank due to unspecified “technicalities,” a Palestinian source told Israel Radio Saturday.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian leader had said he intended to propose to the council a three-year deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The resolution was to be submitted to the Council immediately after Abbas’s speech Friday at the UN, he told reporters.

According to Israel Radio reporter Gal Berger, the Palestinian source said Saturday that the UN’s Arab nation bloc, which is backing Abbas’s bid, was still formulating the final draft of the proposal, adding that the PA president would most probably submit the resolution to the Security Council within the next two weeks.

Under the plan, Abbas would ask the UN Security Council to issue a binding resolution, with a specific date for ending Israel’s presence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Captured by Israel in 1967, the territories were recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2012 as making up a state of Palestine.

The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, actually reported Saturday that Abbas, in his UN General Assembly speech the day before, had urged that the UN Security Council “pass a resolution setting three-year deadline to end the Israeli occupation.” In fact, his speech specified no such deadline.

A Palestinian source who spoke to the Guardian on Friday, however, said that a three-year timeline was never in the cards, and that while Palestinian officials “discussed different timeframes in our internal discussions from six months to three years… without acceptance by the Security Council for the need for a deadline any time frame is meaningless.”

On Monday, Abbas said a UN rejection of the resolution would prompt him to seek membership in international institutions and agencies. Aides said these would include the International Criminal Court, opening the door to war crimes charges against Israel for its 50-day-long operation in the Gaza Strip and for promoting Jewish settlement construction on West Bank land the Palestinians want for a future state. Hamas would also be vulnerable to war crimes charges for firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israel.

The US, which would almost certainly veto the planned Palestinian resolution, has urged Abbas not to turn to the Security Council, but has not offered an alternative, said a Palestinian official. Abbas will use meetings on the sidelines of the General Assembly to gauge international support for his plan, said the official.

In his address to the UN General Assembly on Friday, Abbas demanded an end to the occupation, accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in Gaza, and asserted that Palestinians faced a future in a “most abhorrent form of apartheid” under Israeli rule.

Abbas called 2014 “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people,” and said that Israel was not interested in living in peace with its Palestinian neighbors.

In response to Abbas’s remarks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Saturday to “repel the slanders and lies spewed” during the speech.

“After… Abbas’s inciting words, I will tell the truth of the citizens of Israel to the whole world,” Netanyahu said. The prime minister is set to address the General Assembly on Monday, and to meet with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

The recent Gaza war has weakened Abbas domestically, with Hamas enjoying a surge of popularity among Palestinians for fighting Israel. He is under pressure at home to come up with a new political strategy after repeated but failed attempts to establish a Palestinian state through US-mediated negotiations with Israel.

AP contributed to this report.

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