US In Bind As Palestinians Push UN Resolution Demanding Broad Israeli Withdrawal
The Palestinians are pushing a United Nations resolution that makes stiff demands against Israel and could put the Obama administration in a difficult position should it come to a vote.
The draft resolution, which was given to Fox News on Wednesday by a diplomat who wished to remain anonymous, calls on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and East Jerusalem by November 2016 as part of a new push for independence and full U.N. recognition. The resolution has not yet been shared with all of the Security Council’s 15 members.
But it would be the first time that the U.S. has had to consider such a forceful draft Security Council resolution.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said on Tuesday that Washington’s position remains that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be reached through negotiations. Several Arab diplomats have told Fox News that they expect U.S. opposition to the text. They say, however, that if Washington vetoes the resolution it will isolate the United States in world opinion. The United States is one of five permanent, veto-holding members of the Security Council.
Despite the U.S. position, the Obama administration nevertheless issued a striking rebuke of Israel on Wednesday just hours after President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House. U.S. officials warned Israel that plans for a controversial new housing project in East Jerusalem would distance Israel from “even its closest allies” and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians.
The new resolution calls for Israel to return all territory seized since the 1967 Six-Day War, a condition that Israel has not agreed to in any of the recent U.S.-backed peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu has argued that ongoing rocket attacks from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, as well as Israel’s relatively small amount of territory, make it too perilous for his government to accept a return to the pre-1967 borders.
Jordan, as the Arab Group’s representative on the Security Council, would be charged with introducing the resolution.
The draft calls for intensified efforts, including through negotiations, to reach a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and “a just resolution” of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states and of the Palestinian refugee problem.
The Associated Press reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on Wednesday evening that the draft was submitted last Friday “and we hope to get an answer within a month.”
“Of course we are not sure whether the Security Council will agree on it or whether we will get the right number of countries on our side. But whatever will happen, we have something to say. We put it in writing and this is clear. We don’t need to repeat it again,” he said.
In his address to the U.N. General Assembly last Friday, Abbas said that he would ask the council to set a deadline for a pullout and dictate the ground rules for any further talks with Israel. Abbas also accused Israel of conducting a “war of genocide” in during the 50-day conflict in Gaza over the summer, a charge that drew a furious response from Netanyahu Monday.
Decrying Hamas for its use of human shields and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, Netanyahu said, addressing Abbas, “these are the war crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated, or spoken out against from this podium last week.”