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Arab League backs Palestinian plan to resubmit UN resolution

The Arab League yesterday backed its members to seek support for a controversial Palestinian-led resolution which the Palestinian Authority (PA) looks set to resubmit to the United Nations (UN) Security Council after an original motion failed to pass last month.

Both the UK and the United States opted against voting for the original resolution which called for a 12-month deadline on peace negotiations and an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory by the end of 2017, effectively by-passing the bilateral negotiations crucial to any agreed peace accord. Eight countries voted in favour of the motion, two against (United States and Australia) and five, including the UK, abstained. A minimum of nine votes are required for such a motion to be adopted.

However, at an emergency meeting in Cairo yesterday, Arab foreign ministers approved an effort to re-submit the motion. The composition of the UN Security Council altered on 1 January and is now thought to be more sympathetic to the Palestinian initiative. US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf commented, “We do not think that another Security Council resolution at this time would be constructive.”

Also at yesterday’s meeting, the Arab League declared its “absolute” opposition to recognising Israel as a Jewish state and accused Israel of attempting to divide the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, an accusation repeatedly denied by Israeli leaders.

Since December’s Security Council resolution was defeated, the PA has successfully applied for membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and is thought to be preparing war crimes suits against Israeli officials. This move was also vehemently opposed by the United States, while Israel responded by freezing tax revenues which it collects on behalf of the PA. PA President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday asked the Arab League to provide a “safety net” of £66 million per month to make up the shortfall.

Meanwhile, UN deputy political affairs chief Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen warned the UN Security Council yesterday of a “downward spiral of actions and counter-actions” between Israel and the Palestinians.