US withdraws UN resolution on Annapolis

Move comes less than a day after US envoy introduced it; sources say Israel opposes resolution.

Annapolis wave 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Annapolis wave 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
In a sudden about face, the United States on Friday withdrew 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, apparently after Israel objected. US deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff informed the Security Council that the United States was pulling the resolution from consideration less than 24 hours after US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad introduced it and welcomed the "very positive" response from council members. Khalilzad said he needed to consult with the Israelis and Palestinians overnight on the text of the resolution to ensure that it was what they wanted. Well-informed diplomats said Israel did not want a resolution, which would bring the Security Council into the fledgling negotiations with the Palestinians. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, on Friday, that while he didn't know the details of the draft resolution it was a sign of the seriousness of the United States, which he also perceived at this week's conference in Annapolis, Maryland. "This means, if what we have learned is verified, that there are serious steps that speak to the existence of an American position supporting the negotiations," Abbas said. Wolff told reporters the US had held intensive consultations over the past few days "and the upshot was that there were some unease with the idea" of a resolution. "The focus, we all realized again, should be placed and remain on Annapolis and the understanding that was reached there," Wolff said. "It's a momentous decision ... and rather than dilute from that and in respect to both parties in terms of what they thought would be most helpful, we reached a conclusion that it would be best to withdraw it," Wolff 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 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated their desire to reach a peace settlement by the end of next year.