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Israel Seeks US Block of Palestinian Bid at UN for Statehood

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pushes United Nations to vote resolution to end occupation

Israel is looking for the U.S. to block Palestine's bid for statehood, to come on Wednesday. (Photo: US Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr/cc)

Palestinian officials have said they will push the United Nations Security Council to vote on a resolution on Wednesday to end the Israeli occupation by 2016.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his opposition to the move clear.

During talks in Rome on Monday, Netanyahu said he would reject any attempt to set a deadline for the establishment of Palestinian statehood, calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to use U.S. veto power to prevent the resolution from passing.

"Our expectation is that the United States will stand by its position for the past 47 years that a solution to the conflict will be achieved through negotiations, and I do not see a reason for this policy to change," he told reporters following a meeting with Kerry.

The U.S. has exercised that power in the past to block resolutions it sees as anti-Israel. But officials said Kerry was seeking to learn more about the Palestinian bid for statehood, in part because of increased support for the measure from allies like Jordan. Several European nations have added their support, with Sweden officially recognizing Palestinian statehood this year, and a series of symbolic votes in France, the UK, Spain and Ireland.

The Guardian writes:

The increased diplomatic manoeuvring comes amid concerns among some western countries that the security council will need to be seen to take concrete action on the the Middle East peace process – which collapsed in the spring amid mutual recriminations – to avoid a downward spiral between Palestinians and Israelis turning into a more serious confrontation. The timing of any vote is regarded as crucial.

Palestinian negotiators have been seeking at least nine votes in support on the security council that many believe they will find easier to muster in January when three states without diplomatic relations with Israel join the council’s rotating membership.

...Complicating the issue are several factors, not least the fact that Israel is at the beginning of a prolonged election campaign that diplomats believe will lead to a hardening of Netanyahu’s position.

Reuters also reports:

"Whether we have the nine votes at the Security Council or we don't, the decision has been taken to present the Palestinian-Arab resolution in the Security Council on Wednesday," said Wasel Abu Youssef, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinians' highest decision-making body, led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour said that "on Wednesday, most likely a draft will be put in blue." This means the draft resolution could be put to a vote as soon as 24 hours later, though it does not guarantee it will be put to a vote.

France will also introduce a rival proposal, which would set a two-year deadline for peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

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