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Dec 30, 2014 1:59 PM

UN to vote Tuesday on resolution to end Israel's occupation

The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) The U.N. Security Council scheduled a vote Tuesday evening on a Palestinian resolution calling for an end to Israel's occupation within three years, a proposal virtually certain to be defeated because of U.S. and Israeli opposition.

Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Dina Kawar, the Arab representative on the Security Council, told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the Arab group Tuesday that the 22 envoys supported the Palestinian call for an immediate vote on the final draft they submitted on Monday.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, reiterated its opposition to the draft resolution on Tuesday. It has insisted on a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, not an imposed timetable.

If the resolution musters the minimum nine required "yes" votes in the Security Council for adoption, the U.S. is virtually certain to veto it. However, the Palestinians are hoping to send a message by obtaining a majority of votes in favor of the measure.

Two well-informed U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private, said the resolution will get nine "yes" votes, forcing the U.S. to veto.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a series of telephone conversations on the Palestinian resolution, speaking over the last 48 hours 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 Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters in Washington that many countries shared the U.S. sentiment that the resolution was "unconstructive and poorly timed." He wouldn't say whether the Palestinians might still have enough backers to force an American veto.

"Every month that goes by without constructive engagement between the parties just increases polarization and allows more space for destabilizing efforts," Rathke said.

Israel's image has come under increasing pressure as a result of this summer's Gaza war and its refusal to halt settlement building. The parliaments of several European countries have recently recommended that their governments recognize a Palestinian state, highlighting the growing impatience over the lack of progress in achieving a two-state solution and the increasing pressure on governments to do something to end the decades-old conflict.

Abbas has found himself under pressure at home to proceed with his push at the U.N. and take other measures after months of unrest with Israel. Pressure increased earlier this month after a Palestinian minister died from a heart attack after scuffling with Israeli security forces in the West Bank at a protest against settlements.

That incident came after months of tensions that included the collapse of the latest round of U.S.-backed peace talks, a 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, Israeli security measures that restricted Muslim access to a revered holy site in Jerusalem and a spate of Palestinian attacks that killed 11 people.

The violence seems to have mostly subsided in recent weeks but attacks persist.

"We will submit it for voting and let us see the world saying no to the state of Palestine on the '67 borders. We want to challenge the credibility of this world," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

"We can go again to the Security Council any time, and if the council says 'no' then, president Abbas will sign the accession of 16 conventions including the Rome statute" for membership in the International Criminal Court, he said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said the Palestinians are pressing for a vote even in the face of a U.S. veto because it is time for the Security Council "to shoulder its responsibility and to adopt this resolution."

"If one party decides for whatever reason that they do not want to go along with this massive support by the international community to find a just solution to this conflict ... then nobody should blame us as Arabs and Palestinians and Muslims ... and so many others for not opening a door," Mansour said.

The draft resolution affirms the urgent need to achieve "a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict within 12 months and sets a Dec. 31, 2017 deadline for Israel's occupation to end. It calls for an independent state of Palestine to be established within 1967 Mideast borders before Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem and demands "a just solution" to all other outstanding issues including Palestinian refugees, prisoners in Israeli jails, and water.

France had been working for a U.N. resolution aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, setting a two-year deadline for success. Diplomats said France was seeking negotiations on the latest draft resolution in the Security Council, but that idea was rejected by the Arab group.


Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper in Washington and Mohammed Daraghmeh in the West Bank contributed to this report


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