A Palestinian draft resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories by late 2017 was defeated in the UN Security Council on Tuesday after failing to get sufficient votes in favor.
Even if the draft had received the minimum nine votes in favor, it would have been defeated by the vote against it by the United States, one of the five veto-wielding permanent members.
There were eight votes in favor, two votes against, and five abstentions. Australia joined the United States in voting against the measure.
When asked why his government was pushing ahead with a measure that faced almost certain defeat, Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour said: “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, to try to save the two-state solution . . . then it is not for lack of giving time as Arabs, it is not a lack of flexibility.”
The United States reiterated that it did not support the measure. If necessary, council diplomats said, the U.S. delegation will veto the Palestinian draft.
The U.S. State Department stopped short of explicitly threatening to use its veto but made clear it did not want the proposal to be accepted.
“We think this has been rushed, and that is why we do not support it, neither on substantive [grounds] nor on the grounds of timing,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said. He added that the resolution, if adopted, would set “arbitrary deadlines,” a concern also raised by the British.
Rathke told reporters in Washington that Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken with more than a dozen senior officials from nations around the world over the past 48 hours.
“The secretary’s sense from talking to his counterparts is that there is . . . a lot of recognition that this particular resolution . . . is unconstructive and ill-timed,” he said.
The Palestinian draft resolution calls for negotiations to be based on territorial lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war.
An earlier Palestinian draft called for Jerusalem to be the shared capital of Israel and a Palestinian state. The draft to be voted on reverts to a harder line, saying only that east Jerusalem will be Palestine’s capital and calling for an end to Israeli settlement building.
The last time the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution was in February 2011. It cast the sole vote against a draft resolution that condemned Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory.
Washington has often used its veto to strike down resolutions critical of Israel.
The Israeli government has said that a Security Council vote, following the collapse in April of U.S.-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood, would deepen the conflict.
“We will continue to rebuff vigorously attempts to force terms that would jeopardize our security,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in public remarks to his cabinet on Sunday.
The Palestinians, frustrated by the lack of progress in peace talks, have sought to internationalize the issue by seeking UN membership and recognition of statehood via membership in international organizations.
Israel, 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. (JPost.com)