(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Quartet envoy Tony Blair presented a proposal to Israel and the Palestinians
this week that would immediately keep the Palestinian Authority from taking a
statehood recognition resolution to a vote at the UN, enabling the sides to
continue working with the international community for a formula that would
enable a return to negotiations.
The Jerusalem Post has learned that
under the proposal, the Palestinians would deposit their draft resolution with
UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, who himself would bring it to the General
Assembly by the end of the current session that runs until December 28, if
negotiations were not renewed.
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Blair has been at the center of intensive
diplomatic efforts in recent days to keep the Palestinians from going to the UN.
One diplomatic official said the idea behind the proposal, which has been
brought to both sides, was to “buy more time” and come to an agreement on parameters that could form the basis for
Blair has in recent days been shuttling back and forth
between the two sides, but it was not immediately clear whether either Israel or
the Palestinians would accept this proposal.
His proposal comes even as
the Palestinians announced on Thursday that they will take their statehood
recognition bid to the Security Council, even though US President Barack Obama
has said the US would veto the resolution.
It was also far from certain
that even if the proposal was accepted, the two sides would be able to use the
additional time to do something they haven’t succeeded in doing up to this point
– agree on parameters for the talks. Nevertheless, according to one
diplomatic official, this could insert a positive dynamic into the stalemated
diplomatic process, and give PA President Mahmoud Abbas a graceful way to
backtrack from the UN move.
Blair’s proposal is in addition to other
proposals that have been floated by both EU foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton and the US in recent days.
Ashton met on Thursday morning for the
second time in as many days with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and also
with visiting US envoy Dennis Ross. She returned to Brussels in the
While Ashton had hoped to get the 27 EU states to vote as one
bloc at the UN on this issue, in recent days it has become apparent that this is
Also, after weeks of deliberation, Netanyahu announced on
Thursday he would go to the UN General Assembly meeting next week and address
the Palestinian statehood bid.
Speaking at a press conference with
visiting Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas, Netanyahu said, “The way to achieve
this peace is through direct negotiations. There is no way to impose
peace by diktat. If anyone knows that, certainly the people of the Czech
Republic know that from their own memory, and this remains true
Netanyahu said he decided to “convey these twin messages of
direct negotiations for peace and the quest for peace through the quest for the
truth. I’ve decided to take this message to the United Nations General Assembly
when I speak there next week. Now, I know that the General Assembly is
not a place where Israel gets a fair hearing. I know that automatic
majorities there always rush to condemn Israel and twist truth beyond
recognition. But I’ve decided to go there anyway – not to win applause,
but to speak the truth to every nation that wants to hear truth.”
weeks, there has been a debate inside the Prime Minister’s Office over whether
Netanyahu should go to the UN or whether Israel should be represented by
President Shimon Peres.
One government official said earlier this week
the decision would be based on whether the prime minister felt he could have an
impact on those European countries whose position on the matter has yet to be
When asked how the Czech Republic, perhaps Israel’s closest
friend in the EU, would vote on the statehood bid, Necas said, “I would like to
emphasize that at this moment I am unfamiliar with the format and context of the
Both Abbas and Netanyahu are now due to speak at the General
Assembly on September 23.
Government officials are also in the process of
trying to set up a meeting between the two at the UN, as well as with Obama.