bush olmert abbas wave.
(photo credit: AP)
The United States asked the Security Council to support a UN resolution endorsing this week's agreement by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to reach a Middle East peace settlement by the end of 2008.
US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters after closed-door discussions Thursday on the draft resolution that "there was enormous support" for the decisions taken by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the US-sponsored Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
"Everyone that spoke was very positive," he said. "Everyone recognizes that we collectively and individually have to do what we can to be supportive, sustain the momentum and help the parties as they make the difficult decisions that they have to make."
Khalilzad said he would consult with the Israelis and Palestinians overnight on the text of the resolution to ensure that it's what they want. Council members said they needed to consult with their capitals on the text.
Indonesia's UN Ambassador Marty Natalegawa, the current council president, said hopefully the resolution will be adopted on Friday, after the council gets its monthly Middle East briefing.
"From the presidency perspective, we see there is a good potential for a common, positive response to Annapolis which we wish to nurture and capture as early as possible so that positive momentum is maintained," he said.
The Annapolis conference drew 44 nations, including Israel's neighboring Arab states whose support is considered vital to any peace agreement. A joint understanding between the Israelis and Palestinians, in doubt until the last minute, was salvaged and Abbas and Olmert reiterated their desire to reach a peace settlement by the end of next year.
Qatar's UN Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser, the only Arab member of the Security Council, told reporters "we are happy with the language as it is" in the US draft resolution.
"I am happy that the council is dealing with this issue," he said. "For me, this is the main thing."
The draft resolution affirms the Security Council's vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.
It welcomes the diplomatic efforts at the Annapolis conference "to realize this vision as a concrete step towards a comprehensive Middle East peace."
The draft resolution "endorses the program of action for negotiations and implementation of outstanding obligations pursuant to the roadmap agreed upon by the Israeli and Palestinian leadership at Annapolis, Maryland on Nov. 27, 2007."
It welcomes continuing efforts by the Quartet - the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia - "to achieve a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
The US draft calls on all states to provide diplomatic and political support to Israeli-Palestinian efforts to implement the new roadmap "including by encouraging and recognizing progress and preventing any support for acts of violence or terrorism intended to disrupt their efforts."
Diplomats said one council member questioned the phrase referring to terrorism during the closed-door discussion.
The draft also calls on all countries and international organizations to help develop the Palestinian economy, to maximize resources available to the Palestinian Authority and to help build Palestinian institutions "in preparation for statehood."
France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said "the international community must support the process and the dynamics of Annapolis." He said France will organize a donors conference in Paris on Dec. 17 to bring financial and political support to the Palestinian Authority.
China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya called Annapolis "a positive step."
While he has to consult with Beijing, Wang said the council, "the primary organ for international peace and security, should also announce itself on this particular event ... and my feeling (is) that we will support a resolution on this."
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