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Palestinian resolution on settlement construction presented to UN Security Council

Arab nations formally presented a resolution to the UN Security Council yesterday condemning Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. The Security Council is set to discuss the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today, but no vote is expected on the resolution for several days. Lebanese Ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam, who is the current Arab representative on the Security Council, said the Arab states will reassess the situation constantly to decide when to press forward with a vote on the resolution.

Palestinian leaders are turning to the United Nations after efforts with the US to halt settlement construction in the West Bank failed and direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down. The Palestinians are increasingly using international forums and diplomacy to pressurise Israel, as opposed to meeting US and Israeli requests to renew direct peace negotiations. Though the US objects to settlement construction, they have consistently opposed unilateral actions by either party and attempts by the Palestinians to refer the issue to the UN. The US usually vetoes one-sided resolutions whose purpose is solely to condemn Israel. The Arab states will apply as much pressure as possible to get the resolution passed, but if the US indicates that it plans to veto the resolution, the Arab states may decide to drop it to avoid any further confrontations on the international stage.

In related events, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) for the first time hoisted the Palestinian flag above its mission headquarters in Washington. PLO Chief of the Mission Maen Areikat said that the US permission to allow the raising of the flag “means that the administration is serious and that they want to see the struggle of the Palestinians concluded.” However, the issue is mostly symbolic and is unlikely to represent a significant shift in US positions.

Further reading – BICOM Analysis: The Palestinian Turn Towards Unilateralism