Palestinians seek to move forward on U.N. resolution

The Palestinian leadership Monday presented changes to a U.N. draft resolution on statehood that could come up for a vote at the Security Council as early as this week.

The United States again rejected the text that would pave the way to a Palestinian state by setting a 12-month deadline to reach a final peace deal and calling for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory by the end of 2017.

Arab ambassadors met at U.N. headquarters for about two hours and endorsed the text that includes new wording on Jerusalem, Palestinian prisoner releases, the expansion of Jewish settlements and the West Bank barrier.

But a final decision on the timing for a vote on the draft resolution at the Security Council rests with Palestinian and Jordanian leaders.

“Both our leaderships will be discussing, to find the best way and the best timing to vote on the Security Council resolution,” Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar said.

“Realistically, it could happen tomorrow, [Tuesday]” Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour added.

The draft resolution was formally presented to the council on Dec. 17, but the United States quickly rejected the text over Palestinian insistence that deadlines be set.

The Palestinians had said they were open to negotiations on the text and Jordan began talks on a measure that could garner a consensus among the 15 council members.

But the latest push showed that prospects for a resolution that would satisfy both the Palestinians and the United States were bleak.

Discussions on the draft resolution come amid mounting international alarm over the ongoing violence and the failure to restart negotiations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday about the latest Palestinian push at the U.N.

“We don’t think this resolution is constructive,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said. “We don’t believe this resolution advances the goal of a two-state solution.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Monday that if the Security Council doesn’t reject the resolution, “we will.”

The Palestinian Authority is “seeking to impose on us a diktat that would undermine Israel’s security, put its future in peril,” he said. “Israel will oppose conditions that endanger our future.”

Netanyahu said Israel expects at least “the responsible members” of the international community to vigorously oppose the resolution “because what we need always is direct negotiations and not imposed conditions.”

It remained unclear if the Palestinians would seek a quick vote or hold off until Jan. 1 when five new members with a pro-Palestinian stance join the Security Council.

Diplomats said it was unlikely that the resolution would garner nine votes under the current makeup of the council – a scenario that would allow the United States to avoid resorting to its veto power.

A U.S. veto risks angering key Arab allies, including partners in the U.S.-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against the ISIS jihadi group in Syria and Iraq.

Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela begin their two-year stint at the council on Jan. 1, replacing Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Rwanda and South Korea.

Several European parliaments have adopted nonbinding motions calling for recognition of Palestineand there are fears of a return to war unless peace efforts are revived. The Palestinians have warned that if the bid to win support for a U.N. resolution fails, they are prepared to join the International Criminal Court to file suits against Israel.

They will also take action at the U.N. General Assembly and in other international fora to force the issue of Palestinian statehood on the agenda.

“If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to occupation doesn’t pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions,” Abbas said last week.

“If it fails, we will no longer deal with the Israeli government, which will then be forced to assume its responsibilities as an occupier.”