US says opposes revised Palestinian UN bid

State Department says draft bid calling for Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines "sets arbitrary deadlines" for reaching peace deal, doesn't meet Israel's security needs.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN Headquarters in New York [File] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN Headquarters in New York [File]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The draft Palestinian statehood resolution to be brought to the UN Security Council is not “constructive” and fails to take into account Israel’s security needs, a State Department spokesman said Monday in a clear indication Washington will veto the resolution if need be.
The contentious resolution, which calls for a full IDF withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by 2017 and the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, was endorsed by the Arab UN delegations on Monday night. It was not clear when the resolution would be brought to a vote.
The draft resolution “sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion,” said State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke.
“The resolution fails to account for Israel’s legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs, of course, [is] integral to a sustainable settlement,” he added.
The spokesman’s comments came within hours of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Israel expected the “responsible” members of the international community to adamantly oppose Palestinian efforts to have the UN Security Council impose an Israeli-Palestinian agreement that skirts the need for direct negotiations.
Netanyahu’s comments came at the top of a meeting in Jerusalem with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, frequently mentioned as a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
Jordan was scheduled to submit a revised draft of the resolution first presented to the Security Council on behalf of the Palestinians on December 17. It was not clear whether the Palestinians had secured the nine votes needed to pass the resolution.
But even if those nine votes were obtained, it is now almost certain the US would veto it.
The Palestinian chances of securing the nine votes in the Security Council necessary to trigger a US veto would increase if it waited until January 1 to submit the resolution, because the composition of the Security Council then changes in its favor.
A Palestinian official in Ramallah admitted that currently only six or seven of the 15 Security Council members have promised to vote in favor of the resolution. Countries that were expected to support the statehood bid include China, Jordan, Russia, Chad, Nigeria and Argentina, he said.
Upon receiving copies of the resolution, the Security Council members will hold consultations with their governments ahead of the vote, which is expected to take place on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Palestinian sources. Other sources said the vote might be delayed for several weeks or months. The revised resolution, according to the sources, includes eight amendments. Palestinian sources said the previous draft resolution, which was made public last week, has been changed to emphasize that settlements are illegitimate; that east Jerusalem is the capital of a Palestinian state (instead of a “shared capital”); and a clear reference to UN resolution 194 regarding the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees.
The revised resolution also mentions Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the International Criminal Court’s 2009 Advisory Opinion on the security barrier in the West Bank – two issues that did not appear in the original draft resolution.
Earlier, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said it would take 24 hours to translate the resolution into English. Afterwards, he added, the Security Council members would be asked to vote on the resolution.
Abbas, who was speaking during a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, said the Palestinians would consider their future actions regardless of the result of the vote.
“No matter what the result of the vote is, we will study it,” Abbas said.
“We have steps to carry out that were agreed upon in the past by the Palestinian leadership.”
He did not specify what steps the Palestinians would take. However, he and other senior Palestinian officials have stated in the past that the Palestinians would join several international organizations and treaties if the Palestinian statehood bid failed.
The original draft resolution drew sharp criticism from many Palestinian factions. Opponents claimed that the previous draft resolution did not meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and compromised Palestinian rights. Netanyahu, meanwhile, told Pence that if the international community did not reject the Palestinian proposal, Israel would.
“Israel will oppose conditions that will endanger our future,” he said.
Netanyahu said Israel and Western civilization were under attack from Iran and Islamic radicals, and that this attack now included Palestinian efforts to impose a solution that would put the country and its future at risk. Pence is the latest of the possible 2016 US presidential contenders to visit Israel following Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who was here over the weekend; likely Republican hopeful Ben Carson, who was here earlier this month; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who visited in November.
The Indiana governor said he was certain the “strong and broad” bipartisan support for Israel would be “reflected in decisions that our Congress makes in the months ahead to preserve the support the United States provides to Israel, to ensure that Israel is able to enter into negotiations to achieve defensible borders, and secure its own peace and security in the years ahead.” Pence, who said “support for Israel in the United States has never been stronger,” is in Israel for nine days, six of those on a personal visit with his family. In addition to meeting Netanyahu, Pence also met Monday with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and discussed economic issues.
Prior to winning the Indiana gubernatorial race in 2012, Pence served for a dozen years in the House of Representatives, where he established a record of strong support for Israel.
Michael Wilner contributed to this report from Washington.