Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat—Palestinian envoy to the United Nations Riyad Mansour has confirmed that a draft resolution will most likely be proposed to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, calling for Israel to withdraw from the territory the Palestinians wish to claim for their future state.
Although questions remain over whether this will be a joint Arab draft resolution or a French-backed resolution, Mansour said a proposal would definitely be laid before the Security Council this week.
“We believe that now is the time for decisiveness and we can wait no longer,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. “We took the decision to submit the draft resolution immediately because we can no longer wait for those who have fallen behind and because they must know that the critical moment is approaching.”
The Palestinian Observer to the UN also confirmed that consultations are ongoing with European leaders over the French-backed resolution endorsing Palestinian statehood. This follows a number of European parliaments, including the British, French, Irish and Portuguese, passing symbolic votes calling on their governments to recognize Palestine as a state.
While the Palestinian Authority and Europe are in accord over this issue, including calls for a time-frame to be imposed for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories, Washington continues to reject unilateral action in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Mansour called on Washington to support the European bid at this time, after a number of prominent European parliaments backed the project, in order to make progress in discussions on the wording of any draft resolution.
In comments carried by the Palestinian Authority’s Ma’an News Agency on Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said that the Authority is prepared to submit the French-backed initiative on ending Israel’s occupation to the UN—instead of the joint Arab draft resolution—but only if amendments are made to the text.
Maliki is set to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday to discuss the issue, with the Palestinians seeking to convince Paris to accept amendments that align it with Palestinian and Arab positions. The Palestinian foreign minister did not elaborate on the content of the suggested amendments.
In response to the Palestinian push at the UN, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Monday, where he called on Washington to block joint-Arab and European efforts to secure Palestinian statehood.
“Our expectation is that the United States will stand by its position for the past 47 years that a solution to the conflict will be achieved through negotiations, and I do not see a reason for this policy change,” Netanyahu told reporters following the three-hour meeting.
The Israeli prime minister declined to comment on whether Kerry had given him assurances that the US would exercise its veto at the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
US Secretary John Kerry is set to meet with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and a Palestinian delegation later on Tuesday to discuss the draft resolution.
The joint-Arab bid, which is being put forward in coordination with Jordan—currently serving as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council—gives a November 2016 deadline for the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
“Whether we have the nine votes at the Security Council, or we don’t, the decision has been taken to present the Palestinian-Arab resolution in the Security Council on Wednesday,” said senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Wasel Abu Youssef.
A high-level Palestinian diplomatic source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said: “The aim is to put pressure on the Americans . . . And also to put pressure on the French to come out with a serious offer quickly.”
The UN Security Council held a session on Monday night to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli issue, as well as other regional developments. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said that the quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians has now reached a “dramatic” crossroads, with Wednesday’s Security Council meeting imminent.
“Now is the time to de-escalate and refrain from provocative steps, re-build trust and set conditions for a return to negotiations that will resolve this conflict. Hope for a lasting solution to the conflict must be restored before it is too late,” he said.
Additional reporting by Heba Al-Qudsi from Washington and Abdul Rahman Biter from Rome.