PA: US may veto UNSC resolution on settlements

‘We don’t want our problem to be with the US, but with Israel and its aggressive policy’; Molcho, PA rep. head to DC.

Riyad Mansour 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Riyad Mansour 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The United States has threatened to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, the Palestinian Authority’s political adviser, Nimer Hammad, said on Saturday.
The PA is working on the final text of such a resolution, which it hopes the Security Council will approve at its January 19 monthly meeting on the Mideast.
It is lobbying for the resolution, even though, according to Hammad, the US administration has warned the PA leadership against taking the issue of the settlements to the Security Council.
“The Americans don’t want us to take the issue to the Security Council,” said Hammad, who is PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s political adviser.
“They say that discussing this issue in the Security Council would prompt the US to veto it. They want the issue to remain under their auspices,” said Hammad.
The US administration has, on the other hand, refused to publicly state that the settlements are illegal, Hammad said.
“When we ask the Americans if they could issue a statement publicly outlining what they always tell us – that the settlements are illegal and that they support a geographically contiguous and viable state – they say that they are unable to do so.”
Hammad said that despite the PA’s disappointment with Washington, “We don’t want our problem to be with the US, but with Israel and its aggressive policy and the pro-Israel lobby in the US.”
He added that the present US administration began with a “policy of cooperation with the world and distancing itself from the policies of the former administration, which turned many against the US. Let’s see what their position will be in the UN Security Council when it’s expected to vote on the settlements.”
The Palestinians won’t accept any agreement that does not include a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders, Hammad said.
“Freezing settlement construction is not only a Palestinian demand, but also an international one,” he added.
The US has voiced opposition to settlement building, but it also opposes the proposed resolution on the grounds that it will not move both sides closer to a twostate solution. It has thrown its support behind direct negotiations as the best way to solve the problem.
The Palestinians, for their part, have refused to negotiate with Israel unless it halts construction in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem.
As a conciliatory gesture, Israel halted new West Bank construction for 10 months, but has otherwise refused to heed the Palestinian demands, insisting that negotiations be held without preconditions.
Fledgling talks were held in September, but they broke down almost immediately when the moratorium on new settlement construction expired on September 26.
In hopes of finding a way to break the impasse, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed last week with White House senior adviser Dennis Ross that his special envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, would travel to Washington this week. A Palestinian adviser is also expected to head to Washington.
But the Palestinians are continuing to pursue a UN condemnation of settlements at the same time, because the US has not been able to halt settlement construction.
Abbas said last week in Brazil that the Palestinian draft used language similar to that used by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has criticized settlements, “so we don’t see why the US would veto it.”
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN in New York, where the PA has observer status, told the Associated Press on Friday that 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.
The draft resolution is expected to condemn Israeli settlements as illegal and to call on Israel to halt its activity there.
It is expected that the draft resolution will support direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the resolution of 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.”
The Palestinians are seeking a UN resolution against settlements because the United States has failed to convince the Israelis to halt construction, the top Palestinian diplomat at the United Nations said Friday.
Mansour declared that all countries except Israel support an immediate end to settlement-building, saying: It’s “191 countries versus one, Israel.”
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.”
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.
“Israel has demonstrated time and time again its commitment to peace, and we hope that the international community won’t allow these moves to divert both sides from reaching the real goal – peace and stability in our region,” Peretz said.
Israeli officials added that past one-sided UN resolutions had done nothing to assist the Palestinians. Its leadership has to decide if it is interested in empty declarations or meaningful progress, an Israeli official said.

AP contributed to this report.