Delegates sit for a Security Council meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories by late 2017.
The resolution called for negotiations to be based on territorial lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the Six Day War. It also called for a peace deal within 12 months.
Even 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.
There were eight votes in favor, two against and five abstentions. Australia joined the United States in voting against the measure.
US 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 Israeli and the Palestinians.
"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."
"It is deeply imbalanced and contains many elements that are not conducive to negotiations between the parties, including unconstructive deadlines that take no account of Israel's legitimate security concerns," she said, adding that it "was put to a vote without a discussion or due consideration among council members."
Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar expressed regret that the resolution was voted down.
"We had hoped that the Security Council will today adopt the draft Arab resolution because the council bears both the legal and moral responsibilities to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she said.
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.
The 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.ISRAEL, PALESTINIANS TRADE INSULTS
In order to pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the council's five permanent members.
The 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 abstained.
Palestinian observer Riyad Mansour said the defeated resolution was the result of 3-1/2 months of efforts after the recent Israeli war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. He said it was time to end the "abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that has brought our people so much suffering."
"The result of today's vote shows that the Security Council as a whole is clearly not ready and willing to shoulder its responsibilities in a way that would ... allow us to open the doors to peace," he said. "It is thus most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed."
Mansour added that the Palestinian leadership "must now consider its next steps." He did not elaborate.
In a very brief statement, Israeli delegate Israel Nitzan told the council that the Palestinians have found every possible opportunity to avoid direct negotiations and came to the council with "a preposterous unilateral proposal."
"I have news for the Palestinians - you cannot agitate and provoke your way to a state," he said.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said Paris would continue its efforts to get a resolution through the council that would help move peace efforts forward. "France regrets that it isn't possible to reach a consensus today," he said. "But our efforts must not stop here. It is our responsibility to try again."
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.
The Israeli government had said that a Security Council vote, following the collapse in April of US-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood, would only deepen the conflict.
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.