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Palestine advances toward draft resolution at UN

After a day of intense lobbying, the Palestinians persuaded their fellow Arab diplomats here to support a draft Security Council resolution that sets a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel and is aimed at the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank.

The draft measure was formally shared with the 15 members of the Security Council, with language that sets down targets for Palestinian sovereignty, including land swaps, a shared capital in Jerusalem and “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli forces” by the end of 2017.

Those strict deadlines are unlikely to muster the support the resolution needs to pass, and even the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, stopped short of pressing for a swift vote. Indeed, he left open the possibility that the language could still be massaged to assuage the concerns of council members, not least the United States, which is Israel’s principal ally and wields veto power.

“We will continue negotiating with all of them, and the Americans if they are ready and willing, so that perhaps we can succeed in having something adopted by the Security Council,” he said at the end of two closed-door sessions with Arab diplomats here.

The Americans did not immediately respond to the move. Secretary of State John Kerry was noncommittal in his comments on the resolution earlier this week, suggesting that his government favored “constructive conversation” and would prefer to refrain from taking any action that could interfere in the coming Israeli elections.

Mr. Kerry made those comments after meeting with Palestinian officials and his counterparts from France, Britain and Germany. The three European foreign ministers have been discussing another, softer draft resolution to set a timetable and targets for Israeli-Palestinian talks.

The United States has traditionally been reluctant to address the conflict in the Security Council, preferring direct talks instead.

The resolution lays out a 12-month deadline for “a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation,” borders based on 1967 boundaries, recognition of the State of Palestine, and the withdrawal of Israeli security forces “over an agreed transition period in a reasonable time frame, not to exceed the end of 2017.”

Palestinian officials in Ramallah had announced their intention to go to the Security Council earlier in the week. The move seemed more aimed at sending a political message to Palestinians back home than spurring the Security Council into action. Jordan, which represents the Arab states on the Council and is the only country in a position to circulate a draft measure, apparently sought to persuade the Palestinians to negotiate further to reach a compromise text.

But the Palestinians finally convinced the other Arab diplomats. It was left to Mr. Mansour to emerge from a two-hour meeting with the diplomats — the second one of the day — and announce his victory, albeit modest. The draft measure would be put “in blue” later that evening, he said, which meant that the language would be shared publicly and that, in theory, it could be put up for a vote in 24 hours. A draft resolution could also, in theory, languish forever.

Source: The New York Times

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