Palestinians abandon UN Security Council resolution

What happened: The Palestinian Authority yesterday pulled a draft UN Security Resolution condemning the US plan for Israel and the Palestinians due to a lack of international support. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is due to deliver a speech at the UNSC later today, but a resolution will not be tabled.

  • Some reports indicated that the Palestinian leadership had been under pressure to tone down the draft resolution and remove explicit references to the Trump Administration and its recent plan. Additional reporting indicated that the Palestinians had pulled the resolution after not being assured a nine-vote majority required for any resolution adoption; other reports said it was due to not being assured a unanimous 14 votes – that is, all UNSC members apart from the US, which was certain to use its veto to scuttle any official adoption.
  • Palestinian officials yesterday denied that the resolution had been pulled, saying it was simply delayed. Senior Palestinian Authority minister Hussein al-Sheikh said: “Rumours about the draft resolution intended to be presented to the Security Council are part of a fierce war being waged against the Palestinian leadership. We affirm that the consultations are still continuing despite the American war and its pressure on the whole world not to pass the draft resolution.”
  • Israeli officials said that a new Palestinian resolution could still be tabled in the coming days.
  • Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is due to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later today in New York, although it is unclear whether a joint press conference will take place.

Context: After the publication of the US plan in late January, the Palestinian leadership had hoped to isolate the Trump Administration internationally. However, many countries – including in Europe and the Arab world – softened their public position vis-à-vis the plan so as not to alienate the US government.

  • As he has done in the past, Abbas vowed to take his case against the US and Israel to the international community and the lack of support for this current UNSC effort is a considerable failure of Palestinian diplomacy.
  • A Palestinian official told the Times of Israel that earlier drafts being discussed had been “watered down,” “weak,” and lacked “the necessary language to deter Israel from taking illegal unilateral measures aimed at destroying the two-state solution.”
  • Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, wrote in an oped for Israel Hayom that: “[Abbas] will be remembered as the biggest peace rejectionist in history. Years of historic opportunities, the peak of which was the [Trump] deal of the century, were thrown into the dustbin for the sake of speeches at the UN and for committing diplomatic terror against Israel throughout the world.”

Looking ahead: With a UNSC resolution at the very least delayed, the focus will shift to the content of Abbas’ speech later today.

  • The Palestinian leader is expected to reiterate past UNSC resolutions, the illegality of Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and say the Trump plan deviates from the agreed international parameters for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • The key question remains whether Abbas will propose an alternative vision for what he – and the Palestinians – would be willing to accept in any future talks with Israel.