UN Security Council discusses resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Israeli envoy Danon repeats call for direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

By
April 20, 2016 05:27
a United Nations Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York

A United Nations Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Some members of the United Nations Security Council called on Monday for the passage of a resolution on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

“It is difficult to understand why the United Nations Security Council has not passed a single resolution on this question in over seven years,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said during an open debate on the Middle East in New York.

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“The council could be a silent witness to the demise of the two-state solution,” warned McCully, whose country is one of 10 rotating nations on the 15-member body.

No formal statement on the matter was issued at the end of the meeting, but a number of member nations including Malaysia, Venezuela and Egypt spoke of their frustration over the council’s inaction during the debate.

They spoke about the need for a resolution even though no such text has been submitted to them.

The international community expects the Security Council to play a role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, McCully said.

The steps forward are clear, he added.

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The council should assert that the twostate solution is the only pathway to peace. It should condemn violence on both sides and speak out against continued settlement building, which is an obstacle to peace, he said.

The UNSC must also “endorse a pathway back to negotiations, potentially through a parameters resolution,” McCully added.

Finally, he said, the council should support the work of other parties to resolve the conflict such as the Quartet, the Arab League and France, which has pushed for an international conference on the issue.

The sequence and the timing of how everything should happen remains unclear, McCully said.

“It is our absolute conviction that a council resolution is an essential ingredient in the steps that lie ahead, the only issue is its timing and relationship to external processes,” McCully said.

“I know that there are those who would rather the council played no role and others who will assert that there are risks around a council resolution at this time,” McCully said.

“But the greater risk by far is that the council might do nothing at all, as the two state solution is pronounced dead and buried,” he added.

France’s Ambassador to the UN, François Delattre, said it is important to create a credible political horizon to preserve the two-state solution.

His country’s proposal, Delattre said, involves a June ministerial meeting in Paris of the Quartet, the permanent members of UNSC and the Arab League, as well as regional and European stakeholders.

Working groups would be established to create incentives, such as EU partnerships as well as economic and security guarantees, he said.

A timetable would be set in place and planning would take place for a larger international conference in the fall to provide a credible basis by which to relaunch the frozen peace process, Delattre said.

There should also be UNSC action when the time is right, he said.

“It is our shared responsibility to never throw in the towel,” said Delattre, whose country is one of five permanent UNSC members.

The Palestinian Authority has spoken of its plan to submit a resolution to the United Nations Security Council with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and against settlement construction but has yet to do so.

Its ambassador to the UN in New York, Riyad Mansour, told the UNSC said that consultations were under way with Egypt and the Arab Ministerial Committee with regard to how best to formally proceed.

“We welcome the support of all concerned parties for this effort and the calls for the council to uphold its duties toward the question of Palestine before the situation unravels, more innocent lives are lost and the two-slate solution is relegated to the archives of history.”

Over the past seven years, US President Barack Obama has worked to prevent the Palestinians from issuing resolutions against Israel at the UNSC, preferring instead to see the two parties move forward toward a direct-negotiated solution.

In 2011 the US, which is one of five nations with veto power at the Security Council, vetoed a UNSC resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state.

In 2015 a Palestinian resolution demanding that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 lines within three years failed to draw the necessary nine votes to ensure its passage.

Still Mansour appeared to allude solely to the US efforts against Palestinian resolutions at the UNSC on Monday, when he told its members, “every time we approach the Security Council, we are chided by a council member and told that it’s either ‘not the right time,’ or not the ‘appropriate venue’ to address the matter, or, ironically, that ‘the peace process will be undermined’ somehow by seeking rights and peace, or that the doors of the council are totally closed, period. When will it ever be the right time to approach the council? At what point of crisis ill this council be galvanized to finally act?” he asked.

US alternate representative to the UNSC Ambassador David Pressman told the assembled nations that the lack of progress with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is frustrating.

“We will continue to be steadfast in our support of efforts that will advance dialogue, advance peace, and advance progress; and we will oppose those that do not. Progress will be borne from hard choices made by both leaders to advance the cause of peace over parochial politics,” Pressman said. But he did not address the issue of a UNSC resolution.

Israel has persistently said that the first step to ending the conflict is for the Palestinians to sit down and negotiate with the Israelis rather than to turn to the UNSC to demand resolutions.

Prior to the meeting Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told reporters, “We believe in direct negotiations.

We do not believe in UNSC resolutions.

There are no shortcuts. If the Palestinians want to talk peace, they need to sit down with the prime minister and negotiate.

The same way we negotiated with the Egyptians and the Jordanians. That is the only way to move forward – to sit down and negotiate directly.”

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