Palestinian draft UN resolution targets Israeli occupation

Palestinian draft UN resolution targets Israeli occupation
The US was scrambling Wednesday to avert a showdown at the Security Council as the Palestinians submit draft resolution to end the occupation, while two European bodies deliver diplomatic blows to Israel.
5 min read
18 December, 2014

Israel suffered diplomatic setbacks in Europe on Wednesday, as the Palestinians presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.  

The draft sets out a  twelve month deadline for wrapping up negotiations on a final settlement, and the end of 2017 for completing an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories.

A stinging rebuke

In Geneva, the international community delivered a stinging rebuke to Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, saying the practice violates Israel's responsibilities as an occupying power. 

The declaration adopted by the conference of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the rules of war and military occupation, emphasised a prohibition on colonising occupied land and insisted that international humanitarian law be obeyed in areas affected by the conflict. 

It called for "all serious violations" to be investigated and those responsible for breaches to be brought to justice.

Israel condemned the gathering, saying: "It confers legitimacy on terrorist organisations and dictatorial regimes wherever they are, while condemning a democratic country fighting terrorism in accordance with international law." 

Hamas 'removed' from terror list

In Luxembourg, meanwhile, a European Union court ordered the Palestinian group Hamas removed from the EU terrorist list for procedural reasons but said the 28-nation bloc can maintain asset freezes against Hamas members for now.

The EU court ruled that the terrorist listing of Hamas was based on press and Internet reports and not on "acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities." 

The EU, which has two months to appeal, was considering its next step.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Obama administration is studying the EU's court decision but the U.S. continues to consider Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Jordan submits resloution

In New York, an Arab-backed draft resolution on ending Israel's occupation of lands captured in 1967 was submitted Wednesday evening to the U.N. Security Council  by Jordan, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said. 

However, Mansour said the resolution does not close the door on further negotiations, including with the United States, "if they are ready and willing."

The resolution refers to previous UN and Security Council resolution on the (conflict) between the two parties, including resolution 242 and the Madrid Principles.  

Palestinian refugees

On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the draft resolution stipulates “a just solution based on the Arab Peace Initiative, international law, and the relevant UN resolutions, including resolution 194 (on the return and compensation of Palestinian refugees). 

This leaves the door open for interpretations of “just solution” and other details.

The resolution also sets Jerusalem as a common capital for the two states and refers to resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly, issued on 29 November 1947, which divides Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state.

A demilitarised state?

In addition, the resolution specifies a demilitarised Palestinian state, under the protection of borders from a “third party”. It also takes into consideration the French request on a new international conference to resume negotiations, where specialised committees discuss different issues, sponsored by permanent members of the Security Council and under the supervision of the UN Secretary General.

“we have made the amendments to encourage different powers in the Security Council to deal with us positively. We submitted the draft to allow SC member states to officially negotiate and approve it.'' 

“We, the Arabs, will continue to negotiate with all parties who are willing to negotiate with us in a responsible and serious manner, as we are trying to bring the Council to take responsibility for saving the two-state solution”, Mansour added.

The US  often usually vetoes measures against Israel. And Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki earlier said the actual vote might be put off, suggesting a compromise is in the works to avoid a clash in the council. 

The draft  sets the end of 2017 as a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from occupied land the Palestinians are seeking for a state.  The deadline has been pushed back from that of November 2016 in the earlier draft. 

Israel fiercely opposes any suggestions that the Security Council can set a framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which broke down again in the spring after the two sides couldn't agree on the ground rules. 

The resolution also welcomes the idea of holding an international conference to launch negotiations on reaching a peace agreement.  

The United States was scrambling Wednesday to avert a showdown at the Security Council. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was talking to European and Arab foreign ministers about a potential meeting this weekend in the Mideast, possibly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

The U.S. hasn't said how it would respond to the Jordanian resolution, but Kerry took a hard line in meetings this week in Europe against any effort that could interfere with Israel's elections in mid-March.

"We want to find the most constructive way of doing something that therefore will not have unintended consequences, but also can stem the violence," Kerry told reporters in London on Tuesday. 

He said the situation marks "a particularly sensitive moment" given rising tensions between Israel and Palestinians.

Palestinian diplomacy

The Palestinians began circulating a draft at the end of September, after president Mahmud Abbas told the UN General Assembly that it was time to fast-track Palestinian statehood but the threat of the draft seems to have been enough to jolt the international community into action.   

France stepped into the fray last month and, with Britain and Germany, began discussing options for a separate resolution.