'US failed to convince Israel to halt settlement building'

Palestinian Authority UN observer says Palestinians are seeking UN resolution demanding Israel immediately stop all settlement activities.

Riyad Mansour 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Riyad Mansour 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinians are seeking a UN resolution demanding that Israel immediately stop all settlement activities because the United States has failed to convince the Israelis to halt construction, the top Palestinian diplomat at the United Nations said Friday.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Authority UN observer, told The Associated Press that all countries except Israel support an immediate end to settlement building: It's "191 countries versus one, Israel."
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He said the Palestinians believe a Security Council resolution could create enough "critical pressure to bring Israel into compliance with this global consensus and therefore to stop all their settlement activities."
The resolution puts the Obama administration in a difficult position because a veto would anger the Palestinians and its many supporters in the Arab world and elsewhere, while an abstention would anger Israel. Either way, the US vote could complicate efforts to resume direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Mansour said representatives of key Arab, Islamic and Palestinian groups have been discussing the timing and strategy to win Security Council approval for the resolution and have been meeting with ambassadors from the 15 council nations.
The resolution's supporters are hoping "to convince the United States that there is value to this ... that they be on board," he said.
Mansour said he hopes the text can be finalized next week so the Security Council can take action by Jan. 19, when it is scheduled to hold its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian problem and other Mideast issues.
The draft resolution calls on Israel and the Palestinians to continue negotiations and resolve all final status issues by September 2011 as called for by the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia. It also urges intensified international and regional diplomatic efforts "to support and accelerate the peace process."
Karean Peretz, spokeswoman for Israel's UN Mission, stressed Thursday that "the only road to peace" is through direct negotiations.
She accused the Palestinians of repeatedly bypassing direct talks during the past year, which "only move us further away from returning to the negotiation table and reaching a two-state solution."