Palestinians target settlements in UN resolution

Draft resolution says settlements "major obstacle to peace," calls for continued negotiations; Erekat denies reports PA to seek UNSC recognition of Palestinian state.

Abbas UN 311 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
Abbas UN 311
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
A draft resolution prepared by the Palestinian Authority will ask the UN Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal and call for a full freeze in their construction.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft on Wednesday. It calls settlements a "major obstacle to the achievement of peace." It does not, however, call for sanctions against Israel, and urges both sides to continue negotiations toward a final peace agreement.
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The draft resolution reaffirms Palestinian claims that "Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including east Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace..."
Additionally, the document demands that Israel "immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard..."
It also calls for an "intensification of international and regional diplomatic efforts to support and invigorate the peace process towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
With US-backed peace efforts deadlocked for more than three months, the Palestinians are pressing forward with the resolution as part of a broader effort to step up international pressure on Israel.
Earlier Wednesday, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat denied saying that the Palestinian Authority plans to request that the UN Security Council unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, Israel Radio reported.
Erekat said that the Palestinians have no intention of presenting such a proposal in the near future and that the earlier report by Palestinian news agency Ma'an was erroneous.
He explained that the PA plans on demanding that the UN Security Council criticize settlement building in the West Bank.
According to the earlier report, Erekat had said that the PA plan to present a proposal to the UN Security Council on the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. He was also quoted as expressing hope that the US would not attempt to act against the PA's attempts and also called for South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.
The PA negotiator was speaking at a meeting of Palestinian security officials in the town of Jericho.
Erekat had added that PA President Mahmoud Abbas contacted international and Hamas officials in an effort to prevent an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.
After Erekat denied the report, a senior official told Israel Radio that the negotiator's remarks prove that the Palestinians are not interested in negotiations but are interested in forcing solutions.
The official said that the US will operate covertly to eliminate settlement criticism from the UN Security Council's agenda. If they do not succeed, it may be possible to veto the proposal or to present a counter-proposal, the official added.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the Palestinian efforts do little to promote peace.
"By choosing unilateralism over direct talks, the Palestinians are declaring that they renounce peace altogether," he said. "The Palestinians are choosing not to renew negotiations and are doing all they can to score minor points. They are trying everything except to talk."