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On Palestine Draft, 9 or 10 Yes Votes, 4 Abstentions, US Veto, ICP Sources Predict

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 30, updated -- The Palestinian amended resolution supported by the Arab Group on December 29 will be put to a vote in the UN Security Council at 5 pm on December 30. How will the voting go?

  Inner City Press is told by sources, including those in the Arab Group's December 30 meeting, to expect nine or even ten Yes votes (South Korea is portrayed as on the fence), with abstentions expected from the UK, Australia, Rwanda and Lithuania -- and an American veto.

   If the US will have to veto now -- if fewer then nine "yes" votes, the veto wouldn't have to be used -- it would be the same after January 1, when there will be even more "yes" votes on the Security Council. But what comes next? Below, we cover the issue of the International Criminal Court.

   A source from inside the Arab Group meeting tells Inner City Press that question - the benefit or not of "making" the US veto - was a major topic in the meeting, but the decision was made by the Arab Group to support the Palestinians' strategy and request for a vote, with the above expectation, at this time.

   On December 30 at around 1 pm, Mansour said, “We are happy that the Arab Group on the basis of previous ministerial meetings has considered in a positive and responsible way the request of the Palestinian leadership to put the draft resolution to a vote, possibly this afternoon, if not tomorrow morning, this is related to the readiness of the Secretariat of the Security Council.”

Referring it seems not only to the US but also to the UK, Palestine's Mansour said on Tuesday, “If one party decides for whatever reason that they do not want to go along with this massive support to find a solution to this conflict, to try to save the two-state solution by asking for an end of the Occupation that started in 1967, so that the State of Palestine could enjoy its independence, if a party is not going to go along with this mood, in Europe and in all corners of the globe... it is not for lack of giving time as Arabs, we have been deliberating for almost three and a half months.”

  At 11:30 am on December 30, another meeting about the amended draft began in UN Conference Room 9. UN Television hastily set up a microphone and stakeout (without formally informing the press corps, which the Free UN Coalition for Access is inquiring into).

  Down in the UN's first basement diplomats from Jordan paced around; the meeting upstairs in the Security Council about Sudan throwing out two more high UN officials was essentially forgotten.

   Before the Sudan expulsions meeting on December 30 of the Security Council, for now their last of the year, UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told the press of the Palestine amended draft, “the new text has been circulated but no negotiations have been scheduled and no vote has yet been scheduled, so we wait to see if there will be a vote this year, or next year or not at all.”

   On the contents of the resolution, Lyall Grant said “there are difficulties with the text, particularly the language on time scales and the language of refugees. We would have some difficulties with the text. We don't know when the vote will be held.”

Palestine met with the Arab Group at the UN about the pending draft Security Council resolution on December 29.  Afterward, Inner City Press asked Palestine's Observer Riyad Mansour and Jordan's Permanent Representative Dina Kawar about US opposition. Video here.

  The text of the amended draft is below; six changes include:

New in PP 3 “and to independence in their State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital,”

New PP6 “Recalling also its relevant resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, including resolution 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980, and bearing in mind that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community,”

New PP8: “Recalling the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,”

New phrasing in OP2: “a just resolution of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;”

adding the 2 words “and prisoners;”

New 10bis. "Reiterates its demand in this regard for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem."

   Less than an hour before the Arab Group meeting ended, at the US State Department briefing in Washington, the Department's spokesperson said the US opposes the draft, and others oppose the draft as well, in part because it “fails to account for Israel's legitimate security needs.”

Update from US transcript:

MR. JEFF RATHKE:  "We’ve seen reports regarding Palestinian and Jordanian plans to bring their text to a vote at the Security Council.  There are discussions still taking place in New York and we are – and with the Secretary, who has spoken with some of his counterparts, and we are therefore engaging with all the relevant stakeholders.  As we’ve said before, this draft resolution is not something that we would support and other countries share the same concerns that we have."

  Inner City Press asked, and Mansour replied, “There was a telephone conversation between President Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday and I'm sure they discussed all the issues.”

   Dina Kawar said the amendments concern “the issue of Jerusalem, and others concern prisoners, water, settlements.” She said, “the Arab Group supports, they have now the copy of the new amendments, we are going to submit today to the Secretariat.”

  On timing she said, “If I tell you this week and it happens next week you're going to come back and ask" why.

Dina Kawar and Riyad Mansour on Dec 28, 2104, (c) M.R. Lee

 Mansour said on the timing of a vote, “realistically it could be tomorrow or the day after.”

Here's the text of the amended draft:

Jordan: draft resolution

Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,

Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,

Recalling also its relevant resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, including resolution 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980, and bearing in mind that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community,

Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,

Recalling the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,

Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,

Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012, and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,

Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties,

Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),

Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,

Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,

Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,

1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfils the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;

2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:

– borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps;

– security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces, which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region;

– a just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);

– a just resolution of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;

– the just settlement of all other outstanding issues, including water and prisoners;

3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;

4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the centre of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;

5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;

6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;

7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;

8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighbourly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;

9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;

10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, as well as all provocations and incitement, that could escalate tensions and undermine the viability and attainability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;

10bis. Reiterates its demand in this regard for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem;

11. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;

13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

 Back on December 11 amid reports that if the Palestine resolution fails this month in the UN Security Council, Palestine will immediately join the International Criminal Court, Inner City Press asked Mansour about it. Video here.

Specifically, Inner City Press asked Mansour about the relation between the resolution(s) and Palestine joining the ICC

  Mansour said the two are not conditional, and that Palestine wants to join the ICC, as is being urged at the current session of the ICC Assembly of State Parties at which Palestine is now a non-member state. Video here.

  Meanwhile the US Continuing Resolution / Omnibus on Capital Hill had this to say:

"None of the funds appropriated under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ in this Act may be made available for assistance for the Palestinian Authority, if after the date of enactment of this Act—

"(I) the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians; or

"(II) the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians."

  As Inner City Press exclusively reported, based on Security Council communications, Chad was pressured to not schedule any meetings after December 19. It pushed back, and scheduled one for December 22. Now this.

  Already, the delay has been long. It was cold, for example, at the UNRWA event held just outside the UN on December 2, photographed by the Free UN Coalition for Access, here. In one month's time, Venezuela and Spain join the Security Council, along with Angola, Malaysia and New Zealand. Wouldn't the draft get more "yes" votes in January 2015 than in December 2014?

   Rather than analyze this, Reuters for example again vaguely reports that "some diplomats have described the Palestinian-drafted text as 'unbalanced.'" For whom? Now Reuters adds, "some Western Council diplomats." So helpful.

 Back on October 21 as the Palestine debate of the UN Security Council went on in the Council chamber, Inner City Press conferred with a range of Council sources about the pending draft resolution to set a time frame to end Israel's occupation.

Negotiations were held on the draft last week but only at the “expert” level, not of Permanent Representatives of the Council's 15 members. Supporters of the current draft, according to Inner City Press' sources, include China and Russia, Argentina and Chile, Chad and it was assumed Nigeria, although sources say Nigeria in consultations said they didn't yet have instructions.

France was described as more excited by the draft than either the US or the UK, as not have a problem with a time frame to end the Occupation but wanting unstated changes to the draft. France did not put forth amendments, a source told Inner City Press, guessing that France didn't want to “embarrass” the US Administration before the November mid-term elections.

The UK was described as less enthusiastic, but as somehow “softened” by the recent vote in Parliament favoring recognizing Palestine as a state.

Talk turned to the new members of the Security Council coming in on January 1, with Malaysia instead of South Korea seen as a shift in favor of Palestine as a state. (This reporter's Security Council elections coverage is collected here.) Angola and Venezuela are seen as supportive and “even Spain,” as one source put it to Inner City Press. But what about New Zealand? We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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