US to oppose UN resolution on settlement construction


Washington has made clear to the Palestinian leadership and to Arab states that it will veto a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity that is due to be voted on by the United Nations Security Council this week. Washington has asked the sponsors of the resolution – the Palestinian Authority and a number of Arab and non-aligned nations – to withdraw it. As of now, this request has been refused. The resolution has around 120 cosponsors. It is likely that in the event of the resolution is brought to a vote, it would meet with the approval of the 14 other permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, but would nevertheless fall because of the US veto. This would to a degree serve the purposes of the sponsors, in that it would enable them to maintain that Washington is out of step with the main body of the international community on this issue.

The US has made considerable efforts to induce the Palestinians to withdraw the resolution, which is slated to be voted on tomorrow. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the matter. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has also met with a number of Arab ambassadors to the UN to discuss the resolution. According to a report in Haaretz, the US agreed to support a strong statement by the Quartet in mid-March condemning the settlements and to increase pressure on Israel on the matter, if the resolution were withdrawn. Some European states are reported to believe that the resolution could play a useful role, in that the Palestinian side might feel able to agree to resume negotiations following the effort to pass the resolution. According to this view, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah could argue that the resolution initiative proves they have not forgotten the settlement issue, and this issue need not prevent further negotiation. The Palestinian leadership itself, however, has made no public statement in this regard.