PA ‘backtracks’ on UN resolution against Israel amid US pressure

Al-Jazeera  /  February 20, 2023

The UAE, which had drafted the resolution along with PA officials, has dropped the resolution and the vote apparently amid US pressure.

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reportedly backtracked on pushing for a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlement activity after pressure from Washington, according to several reports.

The UNSC session which will focus on the “situation in the Middle East” and the “question of Palestine” is set to take place on Monday at 10am in New York City (15:00 GMT).

The Reuters news agency said on Monday that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which had drafted the resolution along with PA officials, informed the UNSC that the resolution and the vote would be dropped.

Reports by several other US and Israeli news outlets citing diplomatic sources said the PA agreed to drop pursuit of the vote amid pressure from the US government, including promises of a financial aid package as well as a temporary suspension of announcements on new Jewish settlement units and Palestinian home demolitions.

“Blinken reiterated an offer to the Palestinians for a US package of incentives to entice them to drop or at least delay the resolution,” the Associated Press said in a report published on Sunday, citing “diplomats familiar with the conversations”.

“Those incentives included a White House meeting for Abbas with President Joe Biden, movement on reopening the American consulate in Jerusalem, and a significant aid package,” the report continues, adding that “Abbas was noncommittal”.

Another report published by the Axios news website, said that in addition, “Israel agreed to several economic steps that will increase Palestinian tax revenues by more than $60m a year.”

‘Security coordination’ with Israel

The website also said the PA agreed to “start talks on resuming security coordination with Israel,” a controversial policy which includes sharing intelligence information about activists and publicly stating it is helping Israel thwart attacks. The PA suspended “the security coordination” in the wake of a deadly Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp last month.

It added that the PA started to implement a “security plan” put forward by US officials “to restore its control in the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus,” where Palestinian armed resistance has been growing for more than a year.

The PA has not released any official statement about the reports, but local media quoted a Fatah official as saying that “the steps that will be taken by the Palestinian Authority will serve only the interests of the Palestinian people”.

Al-Jazeera reached out to PA officials but did not receive a response by time of publication.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, long-time Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti said a decision by the PA to withdraw the vote “goes against the Palestinian national struggle”.

“We reject equating between two sides – one that is an aggressor and an occupier, and the other that is living under occupation and apartheid. Some are saying we need to focus on diplomatic and political resistance, so why has the decision been withdrawn? Even diplomatic resistance is forbidden? Even resistance based on international law?”

“We call on the Palestinian Authority not to approve withdrawing the resolution,” Barghouti added.

The situation on the ground has become increasingly tense over the past few months under Israel’s new extreme right-wing government, which has taken steps to further ignite tensions including significantly increasing home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and carrying out several large deadly raids in Palestinian cities.

Most recently, on February 13, the Israeli government approved the “legalization” of nine settlement outposts and announced plans to advance thousands of new illegal settlement units, which prompted the UNSC draft resolution.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement that the decision crossed “all red lines” and undermined the revival of “the peace process”.

The US has criticized Israel’s decision to expand the settlements, but at the same time also expressed its reservations against a push for the UN to denounce the move.

Meanwhile, Israel told the US on Monday that it will not authorize new settlements in the coming months.

The PA, which has pockets of limited control, claims the 1967-occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip as a future Palestinian state.

About 700,000 Jewish settlers live in illegal Jewish settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In response to the dropping of the UNSC vote, Martin Konecny, head of the European Middle East Project, said “anyone framing this as a US diplomatic success is taking a very narrow & biased lens”.

“This is the US arm-twisting Palestinians to shelve entirely legitimate resolution, side-lining UNSC as guardian of int’l order & shielding Israel’s expansionism,” he added.



No U.N. vote Monday on Jewish settlements, diplomats say

Michelle Nichols

Reuters  /  February 9, 2023

NEW YORK –  The United Arab Emirates told the U.N. Security Council that it will not call a vote on Monday on a draft resolution demanding Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory,” according to a note seen by Reuters.

The UAE told council counterparts in the note sent on Sunday that it will now work on drafting a formal statement – known as a presidential statement (PRST) – which the 15-member council has to agree by consensus.

“Given the positive talks between the parties, we are now working on a draft PRST which would garner consensus,” the note said. “Accordingly, there will not be a vote on the draft resolution on Monday. Much of the language of the PRST will be drawn from the draft resolution.”

The United States on Thursday voiced deep dismay at Israel’s decision to expand Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory and also described as “unhelpful” a push for the UN Security Council to denounce the move.

The United Arab Emirates had on Wednesday circulated the text of a resolution to the Security Council that it had drafted in coordination with the Palestinians.

The move came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government authorized nine Jewish settler outposts in the occupied West Bank and announced mass construction of new homes in established settlements a week ago.

The United States traditionally shields its ally Israel at the United Nations. But in 2016 President Barack Obama’s administration abstained on a vote to allow the council to adopt a resolution demanding Israel stop building settlements.

Most world powers view as illegal the settlements Israel has built on land it captured in a 1967 war with Arab powers. Israel disputes that and cites biblical, historical and political links to the West Bank, as well as security interests.

After the Israeli government’s announcement last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply troubled.”

The draft council resolution put forward by the UAE would have reaffirmed “that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

It also condemned all attempts at annexation, including decisions and measures by Israel regarding settlements.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Deepa Babington