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Arab states back Palestinian call for Israeli pullback in 2017

By Agencies in United Nations and Ramallah, West Bank | China Daily | Updated: 2014-12-31 07:45

Arab UN delegations on Monday endorsed a Palestinian proposal to forge a peace deal with Israel within a year and end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by late 2017, despite fierce Israeli and US opposition.

The timing for a UN vote on a measure that faces almost certain defeat is unclear.

Several Western diplomats told Reuters they had been surprised by the Palestinians' sudden push to submit a final draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council on Monday and put it to a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The draft resolution, obtained by the Associated Press, affirms the urgent need to achieve "a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution" to the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict within 12 months, and sets a Dec 31, 2017, deadline for Israel's occupation to end.

It calls for an independent state of Palestine to be established within the June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and security arrangements "including through a third-party presence". It demands "a just solution" to all other outstanding issues, including Palestinian refugees, prisoners in Israeli jails and water.

Jordanian UN Ambassador Dina Kawar, the sole Arab representative on the council, told reporters all 22Arab delegations endorsed the Palestinian proposal, and the Jordanians and Palestinians would consult immediately on "the best time to cast the vote in the Security Council".

When asked if the vote could be delayed until next year, she said, "Everything is possible."

Kawar previously said she would like a resolution that was backed by all 15 council members, including the United States.

A US State Department spokesman said the Palestinian draft resolution was not constructive and failed to address Israel's security needs.

Nine Security Council votes are needed to adopt a resolution, and the US, Israel's closest ally, would then have to decide whether to veto it. Washington would be expected to vote against it, diplomats say.

Israel has said a Security Council vote, following the collapse in April of US-brokered talks on Palestinian state-hood, would deepen the conflict. It supports negotiations but rejects third-party timelines.

Several European countries have urged a less stringent timeline to win broader support. Washington wants to wait until after Israeli elections in March.

The Palestinian draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, calls for negotiations to be based on territorial lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war.

It also calls for resolving all major differences, known as "final-status issues", within 12 months, ending the occupation by the end of 2017, and establishing a "third-party presence" to help oversee Israel's withdrawal and guarantee Palestinian sovereignty.

Israel, which pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, has said its eastern border would be indefensible if it with drew completely from the West Bank.

An earlier Palestinian draft called for Jerusalem to be the shared capital of Israel and a Palestinian state.

Reuters - AP

(China Daily 12/31/2014 page11)

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