The Security Council in seesion. (Photo AFP)
The U.N. Security
Council on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian resolution calling for an
Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and
the establishment of a Palestinian state by late 2017.The resolution called for
negotiations to be based on the borders that existed before Israel
in 1967 captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It also called for a peace deal within 12 months.
if the draft had received the minimum nine votes in favor, it would
have been defeated by Washington's vote against it. The United States is
one of the five veto-wielding permanent members.
were eight votes in favor, including France, Russia and China, two
against and five abstentions, among them Britain. Australia joined the
United States in voting against the measure.
Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power defended Washington's
position against the draft in a speech to the 15-nation council by
saying it was not a vote against peace between Israel and the
"The United States
every day searches for new ways to take constructive steps to support
the parties in making progress toward achieving a negotiated
settlement," she said. "The Security Council resolution put before us
today is not one of those constructive steps."
said the text was "deeply imbalanced" and contained "unconstructive
deadlines that take no account of Israel’s legitimate security
concerns." To make matters worse, Power said, it "was put to a vote
without a discussion or due consideration among council members."
did not spare Israel either. "Today's vote should not be interpreted as
a victory for an unsustainable status quo," Power said, adding that
Washington would oppose actions by either side that undermined peace
efforts, whether "in the form of settlement activity or imbalanced draft
Ambassador Dina Kawar, the sole Arab representative on the council,
expressed regret that the resolution was voted down, while noting that
she thought council members should have had more time to discuss the
The defeat of the
resolution was not surprising. Washington, council diplomats said, had
made clear it did not want such a resolution put to a vote before
Israel's election in March.
Palestinians, the diplomats said, insisted on putting the resolution to a
vote despite the fact that it was clear Washington would not let it
pass. Their sudden announcement last weekend that Ramallah wanted a vote
before the new year surprised Western delegations on the council.
In order to pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the council's five permanent members.
European and African camps were split in the vote. France and
Luxembourg voted in favor of the resolution while Britain and Lithuania
abstained. Among the Africans, Chad voted yes while Rwanda and Nigeria
frustrated by the lack of progress in peace talks, have sought to
internationalize the issue by seeking U.N. membership and recognition of
statehood via membership in international organizations.
observer Riyad Mansour thanked delegations that voted for the
resolution, noting that lawmakers in a number of European countries have
called for recognition of Palestine. He said it was time to end the
"abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that has brought our people
so much suffering."
"It is thus most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed," he said.
added that the Palestinian leadership "must now consider its next
steps." The Palestinians have threatened to join the International
Criminal Court, which they could then use as a forum to push for war
crimes proceedings against Israel.
a brief statement, Israeli delegate Israel Nitzan said the Palestinians
have found every possible opportunity to avoid direct negotiations and
brought the council "a preposterous unilateral proposal."
"I have news for the Palestinians - you cannot agitate and provoke your way to a state," he said.
Ambassador Francois Delattre said Paris would continue its efforts to
get a resolution through the council that would help move peace efforts
"France regrets that it
isn't possible to reach a consensus today," he said, noting that he
voted for the resolution despite having reservations about its contents.
"Our efforts must not stop here. It is our responsibility to try
An earlier Palestinian
draft called for Jerusalem to be the shared capital of Israel and a
Palestinian state. The draft that was voted on reverted to a harder
line, saying only that East Jerusalem would be Palestine's capital and
calling for an end to Israeli settlement building.
Israeli government had said that a Security Council vote, following the
collapse in April of U.S.-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood,
would only deepen the conflict.
which pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, has
said its eastern border would be indefensible if it withdrew completely
from the West Bank.